Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Absurdity of Lame Graffiti

I usually write about heavy topics, as so much of our lives in the United States seem determined to distract us from them or minimize the importance of them. So much of our social world has become digital in an attempt to escape the commercialized society we have allowed to become main stream reality. Nobody plays a game to become a fortieth level Banker with a decent iPad and black leather shoes. That doesn't sound as menacing or sexy as a fortieth level Barbarian Wizard with a light saber and lightening spell does it? It is so much easier to click a button on a square of computer generated land to have "crops" grow or little cartoon figures build a structure than to do these tasks in the mundane world. In a game you can have your character say anything, the most that will happen is your group may ostracize you, kill your character and loot the body. The worst thing could be losing access to your precious game. Your precious, gamers. While we are picking on the gamers, let's not get too hasty. They aren't the only ones living in the world of digital dreams. Selfie addicts, social media addicts, folks who used to think and reason but now only seem capable of staring at a small rectangular box held an arm length from their eyes. Their eye color? The color of their screen reflecting on their face. I encourage everyone to put the little brain drainer down and appreciate the world sometimes.
When I see lame graffiti, I feel let down. Someone just had to pick the wrong place to put a meaningless profession of love.

There is a large, beautiful world outside. It is gorgeous. It is full of life. When was the last time you took time to gaze at the stars, searching for constellations? When was the last time you sat for an hour counting shooting stars? Do you know what phase the moon is tonight? I watched a breathtaking moon rise over Mesa Arizona last night. The moon was a shade of gold so rich that it would have made the most expensive gold ring weep from jealousy. There was a haze around it, as if it were a bellydancer with a gauze floating lazily in its wake. I stared. People went about their lives. I got to enjoy it with friends, we shared a moment of appreciation. It is a memory I will always have and treasure.

Today, we were invited by friends on a hike to see a waterfall in the desert. I am not crazy, there are waterfalls in the desert if you know where to look and you look after a rain!  We met and walked the short trail, climbed the rough rocks using narrow crevices and generous handholds. We found beautiful pools of water with the soothing sound and sight of long ribbons of water sliding down the rocks. I watched a small butterfly, wings appearing white then periwinkle as it danced in the air. A tiger swallowtail swooped down to greet us before continuing its life adventure.

My one sorrow today was the pitiful graffiti where we parked. The "Bobo luvs Bunny" kind, the kind where you are fairly certain that Bunny probably doesn't love Bobo anymore- and if she or he did, they certainly never would have wanted it plastered in shabby handwriting on a rock disrupting a breathtaking scenic view. I decided instead of being brought down by it, perhaps I would encourage better artistry. If you are doing graffiti to profess love, do it with style. Anyone can scribble on a rock, in fact you could take a picture and make your own virtual graffiti without ever committing a crime. Your wooed one would enjoy the picture and the respect for the view or add to the view. Do masterful artwork that everyone will enjoy. It really means nothing to us when you scribble two generic names with a plus sign on a rock. You aren't really memorializing anything, it is absurd for you to assume that you are. It is like getting a tattoo of the word Monday on your face because your birthday was on a monday when you turned 21. It doesn't do a thing to change how mondays are, it only affects the view of your face. You probably would hear the word more frequently, but not in a pertinent manner.

I decided to give examples of "good" graffiti. Good graffiti can be found in major cities; ride the train to San Fransisco and appreciate the view of various artists' work. Beautiful in an urban style. Drab walls become fancy, complex colors and letters. Whether you read the words or become absorbed in the appreciation of styles, shading, and vibrant eye catching details- it is clearly artwork. The artists were mindful to choose urban areas to enhance; so once dingy views are now colorful panoramas for miles. They didn't race to the Grand Canyon with a single white can of spray paint and mark it like some annoying tom cat. They chose their location wisely to compliment their work.

A second excellent example rusts along a trail in a park in Tulsa Oklahoma. On the way down the trail last winter we found a rusted appliance in the middle of the woods. Ron called my attention back to it. He found a quote written on the side of it by Aldous Huxley. He took a photograph. The quote was brilliant and thought provoking. We discussed it for the rest of the hike. I keep the picture as wallpaper on my phone. The quote has had profound impact on both of our lives. The graffiti quote found on discarded refuse enigmatically resting alone along a trail at Turkey Mountain. Brilliant graffiti placed well, not on the trees or rocks but on a forgotten remnant designed for human convenience. Photo by Ron Morgan:

I took a picture of some of the shabby graffiti today and played with my editing application on my too smart phone. I made a bright ocean with rudimentary waves and palm trees; I gave it a bright sky. Very cartoon but far more pleasant than the random names that had been plastered there and in reality are still plastered there.

In short, it may sound absurd but if you are going to add a "statement" to the world could you please choose to make it one worth looking at? It may sound ridiculous, but the sight of Huxley's words resonates within me. Lightly, lightly admire the wisdom and the chosen placement of the statement.