Warning: this blog entry is oversaturated with honesty. Just so you know.
Many years ago, my husband and I walked into an art gallery while on vacation. That began an obsession with a photograph called “Man Under Water” by Leonard Nones. Nones was a photographer for GQ Magazine and did many images in his time there that became… well… timeless. However, in this day and age of information at your fingertips, there is very little about Nones out there. I’ve always found that curious. Never the less, Man Under Water was once either on the cover of GQ or within its pages somewhere.
In any regard, I became… (I know I said obsession, but that’s not quite right) let’s say fixated with Man Under Water. (Here comes the first bit of honesty) The reason for the fixation was that the young man in the image reminded me of myself. When I was much younger and living at the gym, that was almost exactly the body I had. The short-sleeved sweater is something I wear a lot even to this day (just not in summer.) The hair was mine. The photograph just has my vibe in it. It wasn’t just me that thought so, Lee also agreed that it could have easily been me posing for that photograph 15 years or so ago.
So for years, Lee and I would stop into that gallery when we were on vacation and I would always just sort of gravitate to the wall where Man Under Water hung.
You’d think I would’ve just bought it, but I never did. Frankly it was just too expensive and at the time, I had nowhere to hang it. It was also out of sync with the rest of the art in our home.
This past week, Lee came home from having lunch with friends. He had stopped in at the gallery where Man Under Water hangs (we now live where we used to vacation.) They were having a very unusual sale and Lee bought the framed photograph for me. It was a very kind and sweet thing for him to have done.
(Next bit of honesty.) I am very glad to have the art, but to be truthful, I had started to have mixed feelings about it. If you know me at all, you know how much symbolism and signs mean to me. Being “under water” can have a lot of meanings. It can represent someone who doesn’t have enough money. As water itself is a symbol for emotion, you could look at the art and see someone drowning in emotions.
(Honesty bit number 3) I have a therapist that I talk to from time to time. She is a very, very smart lady. As I have said before in these blogs, I have also been very fixated on the idea of stories. The kind we tell ourselves. Examples might be “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m just so clumsy.” In talking to friends or students, I pay attention to stories they may be telling themselves. I also try very hard to pay attention to the stories I tell myself. Recently, my therapist and I were talking and I was explaining something that had me distressed. Her response was “That’s been your story for a long time. The question is what is this story giving you? It must be giving you something. If it wasn’t useful in some way, it wouldn’t still be there. So, what is the story giving you?”
When someone points out something to me about me that I have been blind to, it tends to shut me down. My therapist knows that. She saw me shut down and she smiled. I told her I would have to process that.
And I am processing that. But my point here is that I could look at Man Under Water and see the scary stories. Or, I could look at the art and see myself. Fit and strong. Not drowning in emotion, but bathed in it. Loved by so many people that I’m literally floating in it.
In my life, when I get something right, the Divine almost always gives me a sign. When I went to the mailbox today to mail a dear friend a birthday card (Happy Birthday John), in my mailbox was a copy of GQ magazine. I pulled it out and laughed. I have never in my life subscribed to GQ. My first accounting job was for a publishing company that owned GQ, but I never subscribed to it. Not then and not now. I have no idea how they got my name and address or why they sent me a subscription that goes until May of 2023.
But I’m sure you can see how that’s a sign. As I said before, the photographer of Man Under Water was famous for images that wound up in GQ, just as my new piece of art once was. To me, that was the Divine saying “Yes, Rad, you got it right. You are very, very loved.”
And so, I came right into the house, laid the magazine down on the desk, and wrote this blog to you.
This very honest blog.
After I wrote this, I felt compelled to share it with my team before sending it. While of course I love the message that I am very loved, Sherry had an observation that I think I liked even better. She said “Also remember… you cleanse off all negativity when you are underwater. It cleanses your soul.” That is now my favorite metaphor for Man Under Water. (Thank you Sherry.)
Now I have a question for you… I’ve asked you before in my blogs, but let’s do it again. What stories are you telling yourself? But beyond that… what are you getting out of them? You don’t need to comment on this blog and share personal things. It’s just a question for you to yourself. And if those stories aren’t useful to you, why are they still in your life?
With you on the journey,
P.S. Apparently the Divine wanted to make extra, extra, sure I got the message. That selfie with GQ I took for you? It was IMG_1111 on my phone. Ya just can’t make this stuff up.
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