On November 14th of last year, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit local artists display their craft as a part of the East Austin Studio Tour. EAST, as it is known, boasts some of the most talented and emergent artists that Austin has to offer. What blew me away about EAST was the ability these artists demonstrated to capture the human experience.
I was looking for a few gifts.
In my family, fall is a time for birthdays. With everyone's birthdays running together, the task of finding something creative for everyone can be cumbersome. That's why I was so excited when I discovered the artwork of Carolina Villarreal.
Nestled into the corner of an indeterminate number of other artists, Carolina's art seemed to capture the visitors who lingered around her work.
Their faces were a study in the complexity of human emotions.
Some revealed nostalgia. Others? Delight. Still others showed excitement, humor, and even some sadness. Drawn by their emotion, I examined Caro's subtle artwork and was similarly captivated by the simple yet complex drawings. One of these stood out among the rest.
What a testament to the hope and the fear that I experience on a daily basis in my office. Couples who sit in the couch across use myriad techniques to make this same sentiment, without saying it directly. I often find that the frustration, defensiveness, justifications, and unhelpful emotions that play out like a drama in front me are all shades of this statement.
Sometimes I'll ask couples, "What prevented you just from asking him to hug you?" or "Why didn't you simply ask her if she wanted to have sex?" The simplest answer seems so difficult. We were scared. What we truly want is for our spouse or partner to know exactly how to love us, without having to ask for it. This is why it hurts when you think your husband knows you are sad, yet does nothing.
To be fully loved, we must be fully vulnerable.
We want to love and to be loved.
Yet despite this most basic of human desires, we find so many ways to protect ourselves from the risk it takes to love and be loved authentically. We sit with our backs turned, not fully looking our spouse or partner in the face and murmur, "Just love me already."
I knew it when I saw it.
This little drawing, hiding on the corner, unfinished next to a pile of others that lacked their finishing touches. I knew that the vulnerability and the fear that stood out between this little pen and paper couple was real.
Maybe it is the same for you, and maybe you shouldn't have to go to an art exhibit to find it. It starts with one person's courageous risk to turn back toward each other and simply but authentically say...