This post is part of a series. I hope by reading my words, you taste the melody of stories that many authors have written before me and it entices you enough to pick up a book. Read the prior post here.
The more I gazed at the Portrait of Dirck van Os by Rembrandt at the Joslyn Art Museum (#JoslynArtMuseum) the more I wondered how masterful its creator was; its restoration had illuminated its beauty more. At that moment, it dawned on me how throughout history, “self-image” has been one of the most intriguing characters of human beings. Many artists have depicted it by creating self-portraits, and many influential people in history have had their portraits done by famous artists and painters. The value and meaning of such portraits remain different for everyone; some want to have it made for themselves for their private collection, and some want to showcase it to the world. Which brings me to the title of this article, a twist to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray—you have to imagine your name in the “[Your Name Here]” spot. The novel, as the name would indicate, revolves around Dorian’s picture (I shall not discuss the plot so that I do not spoil it for readers who have not read it).
As a concept, isn’t it true that we do keep a picture or an image of ourselves within us since the day we start cerebration; self-image as we call it. Growing up, I wanted my self-portrait to be full of colors so that it would be idyllic for myself—as a simple principle. The essential question was where do I find the colors to paint it beautifully? Many gurus would tell you that those colors come with life experiences, by meeting thinkers, praying, and by reading, among many other methods. I could not fathom how one could find colors to paint their picture by reading books—I had not been introduced to Hesse at that time. Word by word, I understood the color of individualism by walking with Siddhartha and reading Iqbal. The color of humanity was made evident in the writings of Doris Lessing and Tagore. The color of imagination and fantasy evolved right in front of me while listening to Gabriel García Márquez and Paulo Coelho. The rainbow of love was made brighter by Elif Shafak’s Forty Rules of Love. So many other authors and so many cadences of colors. I took all these colors to my canvas and painted how I knew to paint.
My portrait is far from complete as I can share with you. However, I can tell you that in those moments when I found that the color of all the things around me was fading or getting dark, I found respite in the brightness of various colors that shone within me; the colors that I had harvested by meeting all the characters, concepts, and dreams of the authors I had read. This was a revelation as I had found how to cope with stress and difficult times and nurture my inner self while the wind blew hard outside. I had collected soothing words, enabling concepts, teaching fables, and empowering stories and created a panacea within myself to help through difficult times, especially when pertaining to patient care and human interaction. These experiences permeated into my conversations with patients and their relatives, soothing them while I held their hands; those moments helped me grow.
I encourage you to brighten your inner painting so that you yourself are mesmerized by it; read, and open the window of your mind. Remember, you are your own masterpiece.