The Public

I'm finding it increasingly overwhelming to walk around Vienna. 

Today I visited the Leopold Museum. It's a place I adore. Schiele is my favorite artist, and I always enjoy their other exhibits. Today was hard, though. The line between artwork and public felt more blurred than ever. How can it not, walking past such vivid examples of human portraiture, locking eyes with such vivid humans. I feel the impulse to talk to each one of them, to smile and ask how their day has gone, to ask how Schiele touches them, if at all. But I don't. I didn't at all today. I loved the art, but I left frustrated by the public - perhaps it's myself I should be frustrated by. 

These days, I feel a wall of skepticism between those who I walk past on the street and myself. That I pose a danger to each and every one of them, a lack of trust, interest, and openness. In some ways, I feel it's warranted. Particularly from women (not to say that I believe myself to be dangerous, but that I understand the danger present in such a wide swath of men as to make the assessment logical). 

Still, when your primarily human relationship is to a public, rather than a person, it hurts. I want a relationship that's loving and mutual. Perhaps it can never come with a public. Or perhaps its a case of my father's adage: "you cannot love until you have been loved." Thus our role as people relating to a public, particularly as public figures, is to do just that - to love them. To enter into a relationship that will not be mutual. Where you are not engaging in the shared act of loving, but the solitary act of teaching love through doing. 

Obviously, the receiving of such love is a prerequisite for this work, and a number of other strong, close, and mutually loving relationships required to sustain it. I forget these easily - those closest to me who I let drift into the background when not physically present. It's something I'd like to work on. And I don't need many - two or three will do. Even that can hold enough love to sustain a life - and a life of giving.

Perhaps that was the hole today - that my recent weeks haven't been structured around a close four-person unit of mutual support, but a singular life looking for support from an unloving public. Thus it's worth being reminded: Your job is to give love to the public, not take it. Cultivate those close to you in taking up the difficult work of real love, and, in time, give it back to those around you. When you know the rivers of love surround you and do not fear their drying up, you'll have much less trouble extending love to others. Find a couple of close friends and I can bet you won't fear the smiling eye-contact at the Leopold anymore.

It would be a noble pursuit.

John