To the Man who gave me the Gift of Abstract

he told me to hide in abstract so that i can put it all out,

i told him it was hard when feelings are that raw,

he said it will make it easier to let those feelings out…

i learned the trick, i excelled at it.

and now i can’t reverse it,

…and he’s dead,

and i am stuck in my own world of analogies!

Allah yer7amak.

~ a recent status that was dedicated to him

He was an artist…

He was a doctor…

He was an “Art Therapist”…

He established that center on the roof top of the building where he lived; there were low tables, cushions, all sorts of colors, card-boards of three different sizes, and a kitchenette and mini-washroom, and his study…

You’d go in, draw –or actually scribble- three drawings in order to sit with him and have him analyze them, analyze you… or you could just sit and draw and leave feeling relieved…

His “sessions” were free of charge, and there was a kind note on the board in the hallway politely suggesting that you were free to contribute so that the center never runs out of art supplies…

My first impression of the place was that it was full of what I used to refer to as “hippies wannabes”, “pseudo intellectuals” in addition to the expected “too forward for my taste” and “similarly shy”… yes, I silently watched and gave them labels for easy reference; not to judge them (even as judgmental as I could be back then, that was “innocent labeling”), but just a bad habit you develop when you’ve grown in a family like mine…

I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable with all those different kinds of people, some of which were looking at and studying me shamelessly, some were completely ignoring my existence, some were giving me subtle gazes from time to time, while others just smiled casually and told me I could help myself to coffee or tea if I felt like it…

I never felt more out of place that day, so I looked around in the place trying to find things that I could relate to so I wouldn’t feel like the alien I was… three things I liked the most: 1- him when he greeted me and asked me who told me about the place and actually recognized the name, 2- the stapled paintings and scribbles that covered the walls of the entire place and his study, even the dark and morbid ones that made me look away, and 3- the old building and the view of similarly old buildings surrounding it and the view to that street in downtown…

When I sat with him later at the terrace, he took my shyly colored scribbles and stapled them to the wall and sat next to me facing them as he read them, I still remember word for word… he touched my vulnerability without uncovering it… he hugged me with his mere presence…

All through my visits through the year that followed, he gave me too many abstract advice: find your passion, listen to your inner voice, your strength lies in what people around you view as flaws; don’t listen to their noise, you know better

He was the first ”stranger” with whom I shared my writings without hiding behind anonymity… he said it was raw and full of emotions, and told me I could deliver it without hiding behind anonymity if I hid it all in abstract; he taught me all about abstract without saying much! Abstract was his gift among other things…

I remember my last visit very well because I just wanted to go and cry, and I had about six drawings from earlier visits when I couldn’t wait until he had time for me… he sat three hours with me, just talking with his calm reassuring tone… and I felt calmer as I left…

He died by the end of that week, two days after I was randomly thinking of him while driving and feeling grateful God sent me such a gift and almost panicking over the thought of his death…

 He died in a car accident with his wife… I got to know so much about him after his death, from the stories people shared…

I knew he never majored in psychiatry because of a “family curse” but he had done all the studying and reading (he had one of the richest libraries on arts and psychology)… I knew that most of the portraits and sculptures of him were made by him… I knew he never had kids of his own, but he managed to be the father none of the countless number of young men and women he inspired ever had… I knew that even those who had rifts with him came to his wake and cried their eyes and hearts out…

He taught me so many things of which I lost count in addition to those he actually spelled out for me…

Today, I find myself realizing why I loved him so much although I didn’t even know him that well… I loved in him what I love about all those very special people I have in my life, how human he was… how he (and all my lovely lovely people) restore my faith in humanity and in the goodness of people and make up for the major disappointments that cut so deep into me…

I live because of people like him… I still smile, I still have hopes, I still believe things get better and push myself through when they don’t because I have people who breathe hope and faith in me by just being good and kind and nonjudgmental… and I strive to be like them as hard (and sometimes borderline impossible) it gets with all the evil I see in my little bubble of a world that I actually find quite shielding…

It is hard to believe that all people are worthy of love when you have been smeared with all the dogma and preconceived notions that were validated by people’s selfishness, insensitivity, manipulation, and abuse… but seeing how he loved all people the same that even those who were angry with him grieved, and seeing his spirit in her, and in him, and in her, and in tens and even more, I know it’s worth getting burnt if it means I would keep seeing that spirit for as long as I live… worth all the disappointments and pain…

Definitely.

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~ by insomniac on June 22, 2011.

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