Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Face In The Picture

The man in front of me on the bus, clearly at the end of his day, not the beginning, examines a pencil drawing of himself, which he slides in and out of its plastic bag, multiple times over the course of the handful of blocks during which we share the bus ride. I can't blame him. It is a remarkable likeness, capturing both the specifics of his hat and facial hair and the smile and wrinkles that make him seem like a friendly person. I, of course, have no idea about the friendly part. All I know is that the artist has chosen to represent what appears to be the best of his or her subject.

As the man, and his portrait, get off the bus, I wonder what he will be doing with the drawing. Is it for a friend or loved one?. Or is it simply the result of a whim upon seeing a street artist, a whim that has given him a permanent reminder of a moment when he was happy, or a little inspiration for him to see the best in himself? Has the artist simply done his or her job--that of representing the person in the chair--or has he or she given, for his or her fee, just a little bit more? A likeness to inspire the man when he is not feeling quite as happy as he was (or at least was drawn to be) on this night? Or a picture that will cheer his friend or relative when the man has gone home (I can't help but think he is just visiting)?

My own trip ends at its usual destination. There is no embellishment here--just another bus ride to another night of work. It wouldn't hurt some days to have on hand an artistic representation of what was or what might be to help me through some long hours or some moments of uncertainty. He is a lucky man, that man going home with the drawing. Sometimes, it takes a stranger to show us what we really are or might be...

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