You’re standing next to a friend, observing the exact same painting. To you, it’s obvious. Seeing how the trees dance in delight of a torrential downpour, this work of art clearly shows the painter’s affinity for and comfort with thunderstorms and nature.
Your friend turns to you and says, “Man, that is some commentary on the economy.”
Two people, one painting, two completely different stories.
This is one of my favorite things about art; that the foundation is just one part of the equation, and the lens of the viewer ultimately leads to the viewer’s experience. And really, that the artist has exited the equation after creating. The art is out into the world and each individual receives it as he or she will.
And that experience can vastly change as well, from one day to the next, from one year to another. You might go through some sort of life experience that tweaks your lens for viewing. The simple love song you heard when you were a teenager might reach depths today you wouldn’t quite understand back then.
Now, I said before that the artist has exited the equation after creating; that is certainly true as the artist, but the artist is also a listener, an observer, a receiver. How the creator of the art receives his or her own work is bound to change too.
I’ve started to experience this myself as of late. For instance, last December I moved out of Nashville, TN, after about six years. Early on in my time in Music City, I wrote a song called “Movin’ In, Movin’ Out, Movin’ On”, which describes someone moving into town driving by someone moving out. When I wrote it, I more identified with the song’s arriver, but when I sang it approaching my departure from Nashville, I embodied the second character.
Another shift in perception occurred with my song “What You Make It (Take It Easy)”. In the chorus, there are the lyrics “You can fake it, oh so much is what you make it”. On some stratum, I’ve understood the idea of thinking positively, but only recently did I understand it on a deeper level - that you can choose to feel and believe comprehensive good in your life, that you can press it into you and radically shift your reality. The way you see and experience everything is really up to you. These insights didn’t come until years after writing the song, and now I receive those lyrics in a more profound manner.
This is one of the true beauties of art, that it develops and unfolds to us as we develop and unfold as people. It reflects back on us, whatever way we’re seeing ourselves in the mirror that day.
And there are always more shimmers of the infinitely-sided gem.