6 hours seems like forever. It sure did for me as I trudged into Dittman on Tuesday morning with my crinkly bag lunch and shrugged into an equally crinkly white suit that didn’t quite feel like it was made to be worn by a live person. As we gathered the last painting supplies and perched ourselves on our stools, prepared for 6 hours in that 4×4 square, I wondered how on earth I was going to survive the day.
After 45 minutes, however, people started venturing by the gallery. We reached out to them—offering fresh-poured cups of paint to use to cover our white canvas suits and a few came in and added splotches of color or words or stories or names or insults or lyrics or signatures. More and more people came, and we were eventually no longer timid in our project advertisement—hollering down the hall to attract bypassing strangers.
During the time when our squares weren’t flocked with painters, I could look out over the 31 other wooden platforms and just watch what other people’s lives were occupied by—paper airplaning and poetry and clay and books and paper cranes—a pinkish sea full of 4×4 squares blooming with creation.
It made me realize that everyone is living in his or her little slice of forever. I don’t normally think about how segregated that can be, because I’m too busy bustling about in my own world but when everyone’s little forevers are all gridded out in a single room, I can truly analyze individual tendencies and what makes each person tick.
What if my purpose is actually trying to bring everyone else’s stories together? Mash them all together into one crazy, colorful painted suit; parallel the guy who’s son had just died with the budding rapper who was really struggling to get his name out there; the kind voice of the pastor with the girl who didn’t believe in using brushes and instead finger-painted swirling stripes across my stomach.
No matter how different each person’s style was, their lives sort of blended into this crazy streaking picture that somehow fit together, with newcomers filling in the holes that others may have missed.
Life really sparkles when I can share my little bit of forever with people; give them a paintbrush and let them into my square. Each individual is just burning to tell his or her story and I’m actually genuinely interested, which kind of took me by surprise. I’m often moving so fast I forget to take the time to actually ask people about their lives. But the experience left this great feeling all bubbled up inside of me, and I’m going to try and keep it there…forever.