A friend sent me a link to this painting with a note that asked “Remind you of anyone you know?” My first reaction was that it didn’t. Then, like a person catching an unexpected glimpse of themselves in a reflective surface, it dawned on me that I recognize myself in that image. The set line of the jaw and the gaze into the distance are similar to my own when I’m in a particularly pensive and determined mood.
What truly surprised me was not the moment of recognition of something familiar, but to find that the painter was Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. I know him for his advertising prints and somewhat surreal paintings of the Moulin Rouge. The contrast between those works and this particular painting startled me a bit, making me do a double-take.
Life has been like that a lot lately. I come across something familiar and known only to find that it has some jarring and unexpected aspect. Things are not aligning in the usual and expected ways. Perhaps the universe has been busy pot-stirring again. Perhaps I’m just noticing things in ways that I hadn’t previously. I’m not sure why there’s been this feeling that things are just slightly off center, slightly out of proper focus.
Whatever the cause, I find myself wondering what to do with this string of events and things lacking alignment. What do you do with things that seem to be out of alignment? Do you try to realign your own perceptions to account for the jarring, unexpected bits? Do you limit your focus to those points where reality and expectation are still aligned? Do you try to understand those points where life jumps out from behind the sofa and yells “Surprise”? Do you simply shrug it off as living in interesting times and move on?
The funny part is that I’m pretty sure I’m doing a damn fine imitation of Toulouse Lautrec’s painting every time I try to puzzle this out. And so I come right back to where I began. Remind you of anyone you know?