I had a moment a few years ago, an epiphany if you would, where I suddenly came to the realization that I didn’t want to be forgettable anymore. I mean, being forgotten is inevitable for most people in the course of history, but as we live, I imagine we strive to be remembered and not disregarded while there is still air in our lungs.
I think I’ve spent a good deal of my life trying to disappear, to avoid as much human interaction as possible and hide behind books and screens. I didn’t care if people remembered me. It wasn’t a notion that floated into the extremely narrow vision I had for my life, which was basically to hide and if someone found me I’d proceed to run far away and hide again. Obviously this tactic sounds unrealistic.
Running away is only a temporary fix, and then we see our reflection and think dang, you’re still here, you’re still this way, can’t run much further.
Hiding can only do so much until we must tighten our metaphorical belts and do something about it.
The moment came during a teaching placement. I had to go into a high school every Wednesday for a few months as part of my community service learning and unfortunately during this first placement I was bedridden for a handful of the Wednesday’s, and I questioned my desire to teach. If it felt like a chore to get there every Wednesday, how on earth would I survive two months straight? On a day that I made it into the classroom, my associate teacher was shocked to see my face in her office and said, “oh my, I’d forgotten about you! What’s your name again?”
Crushed. Absolutely devastated.
I know she was not being mean. It wasn’t her fault. She was making a remark because it had been a while since I’d seen her. But how could she forget me so soon? Did I really not leave any sort of lasting impression in our first few interactions?
What a realization.
I know this sounds trite, like it isn’t a big deal, but it was a big deal to me. I didn’t like the idea of being forgotten so quickly.
Now, even though I still might be shy or hyper-conscious of what people might be thinking or saying about me after we’ve met (so many lingering insecurities), what I’m most concerned with now is leaving a lasting mark with my paint brushes.
Each stroke is a stamp symbolizing permanence, my permanence. I want the colours to speak for me. I’m driven by this extravagant idea that people will remember my work, not what it looks like necessarily, but what it made them feel. In the end, when time goes by, we often don’t remember what it is exactly that someone said, but what they made us feel? Shame, sadness, anger (happiness, too!), those are the lasting impressions. That is permanent. I hope my paintings can someday sink in the same way words do, leaving their unforgettable mark.