Psychology 101 dictates that the way one feels affects how they interpret the sights, sounds and smells around them.
At least that’s how I remember the lecture. It was a 9 AM class more than 5 years ago, so the message may have gotten slightly lost in post-college translation.
Nonetheless,this lesson flashed across my mind as I flipped through my photos from last weekend.
I had walked out my front door that Saturday feeling particularly low, isolated and invisible. Blame it on the winds of a quarter life crisis blowing through my hair.
When I returned to my desk later that day, I had unknowingly captured photos filled with dark colors, cold objects and worried looks.
Most were self-indulgent and tragically cliche.
But two struck me.
The first featured two African-American street artists selling their work on Newbury Street. If you’ve trolled Boston’s shopping strip, you know it’s dripping in wealth, fashion and homogeny. In my emotional state, my eye caught the most colorful, and yet somehow most invisible, people on the half-mile-long stretch. I stood on that corner and watched as hundreds of shoppers walked right past these bold, free-spirited gentleman without even a glance. One person even stopped to ask what I could possibly be taking a picture of over there. They couldn’t see what I saw.
This photo spoke to me in my Mom’s voice: “Erin, it doesn’t matter if people recognize you or not. Do what you love, shine for yourself and screw ’em!” It wouldn’t be Mom’s voice without a little extra umph at the end.
The second photo passed through my lens in Harvard Square – where ‘struggle’ goes to die. It’s Cambridge’s mecca of prestige and wealth.
I sat on a bench eating a grilled chicken sandwich as cute couples, laughing families and even a juggling man on stilts paraded happiness in front of my face. Between the lines though, I spotted one young girl and her dog. And I snapped the picture of true loyalty amidst despair.
This photo spoke to me in my own voice: “You are never alone. You will always have someone looking out for you as long as you look out for someone else.”
I am continually amazed that art has the power to expose fears, and distill hope, all in one frame.