Of Strangers and Canvases
I am new to medium and for a while my feed kept showing me articles either on politics or life learning. Not like I mind reading those, but it was getting monotonous and I was getting a bit sick of Medium. It was then that I bumped into this library of thoughts. I cannot believe people can think at such a deep level. I am in awe.
There were these two posts I really liked and would like to comment upon.
In one of them, the protagonist loves to stare at strangers. She says they are empty canvas. You look at them and you see mothers, fathers, children. You know what they are but you don’t know why they are there. You look at them and you think of a story. What must be going through them, where are they headed. That sort of a thing.
Now here the protagonist never actually makes a contact with these strangers but paints stories about them. Her empty canvas now becomes her subject of painting. The creativity and level of imagination was incredible.
Then I moved to another article. In this one, the protagonist flies paper planes made of a soothing green colour from top of random buildings. On that paper he writes this phrase —
Let’s be lonely, together.
And below that writes his phone number. In a few days, he gets his first call. The caller talks to him about his problems and they talk for a while. Same thing happens everyday with different callers. He keeps flying the paper planes.
One day he is invited to a TV Studio for an in-person interview. He declines because he thinks the illusion would shatter. The illusion his callers have of him. They have never seen him, only heard him. They are thinking of him in their own imagination and telling him their deepest secrets. They are thinking of a person who they are the most comfortable with. Disclosing his identity would shatter their illusion, he feels.
I think that’s the problem with the world today. We are too busy attaching identities to individuals. Grouping them based on these identities. Judging them. He is a Muslim, she is a woman, they are gay, illiterate, lunatic, fat, ugly, anti-nationals, communists, poor.
This is what prevents us from knowing each other. Sharing our stories with theirs. Without a judgmental ear.
The author in the second article says-
We are like porcupines trying to hug other. Neither would hug thinking the other would hug them.
We need to move beyond these identities. We need to think of them as individuals. That is the only way to stop the hatred in the world. We need to shed the porcupine thorns. And talk, like individuals. Without identities. We need that unknown caller and the blank canvas.
Paint the world with all sorts of stories.