Tuesday, January 19, 2010

English, My second First Language

Art history revolutionized my world. I was a visual learner before that class but during it, I learned formal rules for visual communication that resonated with every part of who I was. It was always easier for me to understand pictures than words. Art history both fed and validated that style of learning. Symbolism, which had never made any sense in literature, started making a lot of sense when I started studying Van Eyck. Every object, every color is symbolic of something. It was like learning a new alphabet and a new language.

Later, when I wasn't able to comprehend anything that I read after getting hit in the head, I kept trying to read any way. After six months of trying, I finally started comprehending some of the imagery being described and I was able to hold on to that. I re-learned to read by translating words to pictures and I wrote by translating pictures to words. Clearly not the best approach imaginable, but it was the best available to me at the time.

I am not sad that I learned to use imagery. The scriptures are brimming with it and most people miss that aspect of them. For the longest time, that is all I have been able to understand. It is really wonderful having language too. This hit me last weekend when I went to help with dishes and clean-up after a funeral dinner. I got there a bit early and the family was still eating and talking and looking at pictures. I used to go nuts in those circumstances where one cannot lift a finger to clean up because it will rush the family, but I really just want to start putting everything away and then go home. This time was different. There were women in the kitchen chatting with each other and I looked around at them, Jenny Vezzanni, Laurie Atkinson, and Eva Smith, and I joined in the chatter and felt embraced by it. I thought to myself, "What could be better than talking with these women right now?" I don't even remember what we said, but I enjoyed every second of our discussions. I can't think of a single picture that could have topped it.

1 comment:

Lindy said...

Ahhh mim...a woman after my own heart. I understand exactly what you mean.