His companion hears the key scratch at the lock. Her body stiffens wondering about his mood. Often brooding, sullen and full of pique. No resemblance to his public face. He enters, slumping in his favourite chair.
On his way home he passed a building site. The vision stirred the anger in his veins, and filled him once again with fierce regret. Oh how he wanted that throughout his life. He begged his dad to teach him how to measure. balance resources, and work in town planning . Measuring became the feature of his teens. The new big thing, just when his soul awoke. He felt his ambitions shunted to the rear. ” Pablo, do your drawing. Its God’s gift. You know you must not neglect your talent”. The words still burnt a hole throughout each day. His moment passed: now all he has is this. He felt his anger grow within him. Surge unchecked through veins and onto brush. His paintings lost all symmetry. Horror of horror they saw this as another sign of genius. The birth of a new movement. Something fresh. Trapped inside himself by their misguided praise. Growing wealthy as his chances faded. Life raced by, without him at the wheel.
“Simply wonderful” the critics said. Cursing him to a life misunderstood. The angrier he got the more they loved him. The worse he drew they more they praised his art. They saw his fury as a gift, and marvelled at his new forms of expression, when all the time he was drowning in his rage. Walled up by praise, they soothed his nerves with money, so misbehaviour was all that he had left. Looking at his trapped and tortured figure, the critics purred at his “free spirit”, and made exceptions for his social crimes. ” Not entirely faithful, must be said, but genius tends to tread unbeaten tracks”.
Sometimes when drunk he shared his dreams with others. “Oh how I wanted to be a building surveyor” he used to say. “The sound of trucks, materials, the project growing right before your eyes; the moment understood”. How they laughed, his friends when he told them. A genius recognised from youth. Wanting to waste his life behind a desk, and pander to the whims of some town hall. “He never fails to astound” they told each other, dismissing as a whimsy longings drunkenly expressed.
Not a true story, of course: a thought from my own musings, but also true if you follow me. Those who garner praise for some great function, can live in envy of another life, and wish to live their dream instead of feeding others. So we can live one life, and want another. Be praised for talents that burden us like duty. Kept apart from our own secret longings and envying those lives more understood.
Can we live one life, and dream of something else. Wanting a better or easier way than this.Walled up in riches and longing for our freedom. Drowning in praise for something we do well, and wish we didn’t. Living in an upholstered prison. A reluctant icon in another’s schemes. Failing to see ourselves as others see us. Brilliant ,talented and singly blessed.