Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Kissing Couple As Muse

There are times in life when we find our best inspired by the worst possible circumstances: a crisis brings out our most stable instincts, or we respond sanely to a flurry of madness that engulfs us. Perhaps we are just wired that way – I know I am – but more likely, even for those who are not, the extreme by nature acts as an inevitable catalyst. And the opportunities we seize depend on the leanings of our will.

A young couple photographed kissing in the midst of a riot in downtown Vancouver recently offer a good example of life seized with both hands. Caught in the middle of violence, madness and mayhem, it would have been easy for them to panic or behave badly. Instead, the young man in question made an unlikely and extraordinary choice. His girlfriend knocked down by riot police, their safety compromised, he fell to the ground and embraced her.

She was frightened, he said. He wanted to calm her down.

A freelance photographer in the area caught the image on camera. The photo went viral, and since then, the couple have been besieged with media requests from around the world.

When I was reading about the riot and first saw the photograph, I thought it must have been photoshopped or staged. But after watching an interview that Scott Jones and Alexandra Thomas did with the CBC, I was amazed to discover that not only was it real, but the couple themselves are refreshingly candid and unpretentious.

The question we might all indulge in at a time like this is, why the mass appeal?

I would like to see bloggers of all stripes rise to the occasion. This image, with its “make love not war” message, has a little something in it for all of us. Artists would do well to draw on this for fuel. It is rare that we can be witness to something so poignant and tender in the midst of such turmoil. That Scott Jones dared to express heart in the face of anarchy and bedlam is a testament to the calibre of his character.

For me personally, this image resonates as a powerful reminder of what continues to grow in me as I age. For all our woes about getting older, it seems to me that the process brings with it a new found capacity for the paradoxical; an ability to embrace beauty in what is not pretty.

And that, to me, is what makes life rich.