It took watching the flashback replay in your head from what you remember that day. There were three middle school hooligans and you about two years older. As you were supposed to be making the smart decisions and watching the young ones you had taken that as directions to make sure their stupidity and recklessness were unmatched in stories to their peers. These days before cellphone and social media hoarded the attention of people in this age range stories like this were where friends were made. T started by spray painting new designs on the old plastic barbie jeeps. The motors had been ripped out of the leave free-spinning axels on the Tyco plastic wheel. This, with any amount of downhill speed, and added steering capabilities provided the best known drifting machine imaginable. The flicker of scenes in and out of the garage tracked out to the nostalgia of adrenaline pouring into your veins racing down the hill. Accidents were forgotten as the friendships were built. The friendships were built as life transformed the structure of who we were. Who we were, it looks strange to who we are today. Today is the day he asked for a painting.
Why he asked me I’ll never know. I don’t think I paint that well. I don’t think my ideas come across as they’re meant to. I don’t think the layers make you cry like the onion I always want. The one I expect every time. I don’t know why he asked, but he did.
Same as always I made the demands in multiples of three. You gave me either 3, 6, or 9 ideas to work with. Now he could have told me six shades of yellow and three different breeds of dog but instead, he pried his mind for ideas he could plant and I could grow. His high laugh trailed into his words explaining that he was looking for something I hadn’t done. He’d seen the drawings read the articles and everything else that told him it hadn’t been done before. Fezz stopped being so high and turned back into Sunshine as he said
“I want a lion or lions, but you gotta make one leader of the pack. With water, I like water. And I want it trippy. I want those colors, the designs, the Van Gough style thickly laid on paint that gives the picture depth.”
His laugh echoed back up into pitches so high some might try and smoke it.
“You think you can make that work?”
Three days, a few thousand miles, and one surprise bigger than you could wrap and I was ready to paint. The ideas he gave me were written down in a notebook immediately after he gave them to me, yet, they still bounced around in my head as if were freshly cracked can of racquetballs in a dog park. It was easy to change ideas. It was easy to go with them and not change a thing. It wasn’t easy to create something on top of the ideas you’d been given. Yet here I was with a pyramid of ideas and a canvas to relay the message. Well, there was one thing that was unavoidable. I painted a lion. It was easy to know this was going to be a part of the main picture and focus. The hard part was making the lion unique enough to stand out in most people’s minds. The lion was and always has been pictured as a being in charge of the kingdom it inhabited, a fucking king. So while people pictured a crown as the symbolism for a king I pictured transparency. If You could look at a person, a leader, and tell where each side of their arguments came from like the angels and devils in their iconic position on each shoulder. That is the true mark of someone born for a position to lead. It’s like taking off your glasses in a 3D movie. You can see the tracers and shadows hanging to each side. Each color standing out in comparison to the middle image of who you’re supposed to see. When sewn together with the cherry red and cyan protrudes the picture, popping it off-screen and into your head. It’s coming right in your direction. This was the mark of a true king. Transparency was the crown.
Water that was the other thing he asked for in the picture. He wanted water like a pond that was still enough to see your reflection. You can see yourself. You can see where you came from. More importantly, you see where you’re going. You’re made up of mostly water. You’re made up of mostly the person who looks back from the water. The water was the easy part to put into the painting. The water was an easier part of the puzzle to put in. The water and all it stands with and for had to be tied into the crown of transparency the king himself wears. Who you are always stands behind you. That’s where the image of the water was going to have to stand. The water was going to be part of the king. outlined the mane of the lion king as being the forever influential and changing currents of life. Highlighted in different lights and lenses of memories and decision to shape.
The painting began to come together as a steady image. It was getting more imaginable. The only piece missing was how another lion was getting into the painting. Chasing the lion in front, the king behind could represent the differences in past and present. It could be the symbolism for so many things but it left one section filled that was supposed to be empty. It was expected. It wasn’t something that made people ask enough questions involving the most important word in the language, “Why”. It needed to be something clean and bland. Holding emotions of awe in spectacular and fearful ways it needed to be… That’s it.
*Quick text to Fezz, “ME: Do you like polar bears? FEZZ: Yes of course, why?”
It’s settled then, one’s going in the painting. It’s going to have the colors. All the different colors.
The different colors in the decisions we make and the choices we have available are black compared to the white of life that we call our past. It’s the fusion of this two past and what could be the present shaped by the hundreds and thousands of prior experiences. This picture of life never needs to be brought too closely into focus. While the saying remains, “other fish in the sea” may we change it to “You always be you must stand on the edge of the world to remember it’s turtles all the way down” to remain pragmatic as much as possible. Fuck, most see two sides in the picture of life. Good and evil. Love and hate. They understand the fringes of each end, yet, they don’t grasp the picture painted in shades of gray over the middle. This is one thing we all need to see better in life.
As people see the picture of life, the images you have painted set clear tracks of thoughts in their minds. They see all you allow in the night and day. They see all that life lets them, just remember there is always more to see under different lights. People’s emotions are like the spectrum of light. Very little is visible but upon examination different things stand out to different eyes. This is one thing we all need to see better in life.
The whole picture down to each strand of pigment, standing out or blended into the background, visible to your eyes or only others, can all have the same thing said about them. This is something we need to see better in life. It may seem easy while swimming in the color.