Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Lesson In Transparency

For an art project in college I had a teacher give the class miniature envelopes that people use when collecting stamps. The envelopes were semi-transparent and the only instructions were to use them for the next project. I held the miniature envelope in my hand and began to think. Usually, envelopes are opaque in order to protect the contents. I found the concept of a transparent one to be intriguing. I thought about being transparent as a person - saying what you mean and meaning what you say. I try to be as transparent as possible but found three people in my life who I had not expressed my feelings to. I wrote down my thoughts for these three people on transparent paper and presented them on a textured background to look as though they were antique. These are my letters.

The first letter I wrote to a friend of mine from high school. We had a Spanish class together and due to our last names being so close alphabetically we were usually seated next to each other. His friendship had a profound impact on me. 

Dear Terry,
You were one of my best friends in high school. Before I met you I didn't think anyone could completely understand my sense of humor. I never laughed harder with anyone than I did with you. Even though you didn't know it, you helped me become the person that I am today. I never told you this but you were the first boy that I ever wanted to ask out. Another girl was braver than me and you ended up dating her for years. I remember sitting with you outside the art department and you said that you dated her because you didn't feel like anyone else would want you. I wish I could have told you that wasn't true but I couldn't find the words. We ended up going to the same college but we drifted apart. I miss you. I just hope that wherever you are, you are making people laugh. You are one of the most colorful people I have ever met. I hope that one day I will get to tell you how wonderful you are.

The second letter was for my best friend in high school and my first roommate. She was my first and most painful experience in letting go of someone who was toxic. 

Dear Heather, 
I will always remember you as one of the great disasters of my life. You were one of my best friends for years. I was there for you when your father died. You slowly fell apart and I couldn't save you. Your depression got worse and you pushed me away. I did everything I could think of to help you. At first you acted like everything was fine, then you began to withdrawal. You dropped you classes and spent all of your time in your room. You knew you were depressed and you refused to get help. I tried not to take it personally but I was so angry that you seemed to enjoy things the way they were. My other friends didn't understand how I could live with you. I wanted to prove that I was there for you no matter what. In the end things got so bad that I had to walk away. That was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I still pray for you. 

The third letter was written for my father. 

Dear Dad, 
Lucky for me that I inherited your personality. I have learned so much about myself just from watching you. I've never been "daddy's little girl" but I still know you better than anyone else. I think that is why you get angry with me sometimes - because you can't hide from me. You always used to read me books that were over my head but it made me eager to keep up. Because of you I have a deep love for science and nature. When we were at home you played any kind of music you could get your hands on. You opened my ears to a world full of music. Your interest in world religions has made me a more well rounded and accepting person. The sense of humor that we share has gotten us into a lot of trouble. I never felt like I had to fit in or compromise myself because you never did. You made it easy for me to be myself even though you can't understand why I am an artist. 

After the assignment was done I thought more about the letters I had written. I decided that in order to be truly transparent I should communicate my feeling where they were applicable. I typed out Terry's letter and emailed it to him. To date I have never received a response. I decided against sending Heather's. Even though my heart went out to her I didn't feel that sending her the letter would do either one of us any good. 

However, I was able to give my father his letter in person on Father's Day. He didn't say much but I could tell that he loved it. It is always easier for us to talk about concepts rather than feelings, but this time it was expressed and tangible. Something to hold on to and look back on. 

Even though parts of this project were difficult and heart-breaking, it taught me a valuable lesson in being open, honest, and above all - transparent. 

No comments:

Post a Comment