When I posed the question, “if reality was like a painting, would you try to enter the imaginary space of the painting, or would you pull aside the canvas to catch the painter in the act of creation?” in our most recent call for submissions, I was admittedly expecting a playful response. The question was inspired by a comment from long-time TSK student Michael Gray about the different options for engaging in contemplative practice – whether we choose to imaginatively dive into the content of our experience, or investigate the process of its creation.
I was surprised and delighted to discover the question prompted a more eclectic array of responses—from short and playful, as in the poem by Ana Vartalitis, to the darker reflections of Eitan Michael Perlin’s A Portrait of Misery. Perhaps the single most important feature that brings the collection together is the urge to look deeper, to look within, to look behind—to discover something beyond the ordinary appearance of reality. Maybe this “urge to look” can lead us to a place that challenges the boundaries of our ordinary expectations. As Hillary Severino writes, “the shadows dancing on the walls are the absolute morals and conglomerate monstrosities meant to feed us absolutes until we come to realize that maybe, there are other ways of looking at things, and perhaps, we are only chained to our preconceptions because we were convinced to do so.”
Of course, each contributor to the Reality Painting collection is also a reality painter themselves. As you view the collection, consider allowing each piece to take you into its world, and then step back and consider it in connection with its author. The breadth of experience represented here—from a high school student, to a seasoned author, to an intuitive healer—invites us to see things in ways we haven’t before, to inquire into who we really are, what our reality is… and what it could be.