MIRIAM SHAH–Existential Musings

Lazy Compassion

A false approach to poverty is advancing upon it with the sterile tongs of intellectual humanitarianism. Poverty to many is ambiguous. It is the “donation” plaque on a store counter, it is a bumper sticker on the back of a new car. People on Pinterest who sign digital petitions think that they’ve done enough for a cause just by clicking a few buttons, as well as clothing lines that “give 20% of your proceeds to charity.” It’s all to assuage guilt, really, but it’s deception. All of it. Consumerism, conditioning by the media can shut out everything important. I am not being pessimistic or hopeless, I am stating it as it is. One can live completely shut out from true suffering except on magazine covers and web advertising. The broken human shell likes to seek shelter in the gilded cage of first-world modernity, with all it’s distracting comforts that distort impending death into the form of a self-righteous donation sticker. What one needs to do is realize and measure the good one does with how one feels afterwards, and if it is real it will no longer feel like relief or assuaged guilt, but liberating gain.

Means to an End

The creation of something corporeal and tangible such as a piece of artwork is a way of giving back, a response to one’s existence in this world. Sometimes one pushes against it-the confines of the mind and man’s intrinsic limited perception, but within this response lies a fundamental desire for community and fraternity among the Others. To separate emotion and desire from free expression would be to constrain it.
Art is supposed to stimulate one to seek answers, it does not always provide them. What people who dismiss art fail to understand is that the passage or the means to a solution is as important as the solution itself. You have to see the meaning and realize the depth and deliberation of your actions before you throw yourself into a project. You don’t throw yourself into the sea without learning how to swim. Do you?
When all forces were conspiring against The Man, in his brokenness, the Painter was painting him. It was a sort of ‘Come as you are’ and I will show this face to the world with no false glory, simply the offering up of The Man in his true form. It is almost religious, the depiction of the raw man, in sanctified simplicity.


“When you start a painting, it is like restarting yourself from the inside out.” She says. She has her paintbrush poised in between her thumb and middle finger. Her hands are my size, but darker, and flecks of paint that have escaped the canvas can be seen along her palm. Biju Cherayath. Her name. Seen on plaques and awards around the small apartment, hidden behind bulky canvases and misplaced kitchen utensils, sometimes shoes and paintbrushes.
When she paints I just watch. She’s a woman who paints a world that is dying to be painted. It can be dirty and deceitful and dark, but it is also alive. India never sleeps.
She is still painting the lotus petal. Lilac over yellow ochre over light magenta over white. Layers upon layers. “See? This piece is like a moth. All complex pieces are like moths. When you see a moth from far away, it looks ugly and strange, but when you look at it from up close, you see the patterns in it’s fur. It is intricate when you choose to look closely.”

Bruises of Fraternity

When a tragedy occurs, you are in shock. Yet, after a period of time, realizations form, much like a bruise. The impact of the experience is forceful and astounding, the blow is your focal point, drawing your mind to the throbbing ache. Then ruptured blood vessels emerge, just as your consciousness forms, burst, altered, and rises from beneath the surface to greet the exterior, just below the epidermal layers of your outward composure. But bruises are ephemeral; they heal, fade away.
The blood vessels are replaced, and your flesh becomes the same way it was before, unmarred by a scarlet testament to human endurance.
People, on the other hand, are always morphing, changing, absorbing bruise upon bruise until they become brilliant bruises themselves, existing to adorn the visage of Human Experience.


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