Sunday, April 3, 2011

Le Discret

I have been too serious with my previous blog entries and I shall now relieve you of any potential stress and expound upon something different.

I must admit, as a child, I was wildly imaginative.  Fortunately and unfortunately, a lot of my childish creativity is now gone but I certainly remember living an adventure nearly every single day before becoming a teenager.  There were moments where I'd be alone in my room, playing with my Matchbox cars, and to get perspective on how the vehicles looked pulling up, I'd rest my head on the carpet and look at it with one eye open.  I'd pretend it was a situation where someone would see the car pull up from "downstairs" (my eye closest to the ground) of a "house" (my head) and then quickly run "upstairs" to see it from an upper "window" (my other eye).

Where the real adventure took place, though, was at my best friend's giant house in my home town.  His parents were a bit more well off than mine so they owned an old bed & breakfast cottage style, 3-story house that was built in 1902 and on the corner of a tucked-away part of town.  I absolutely loved going over there because of their large hilly front yard, a giant side yard which included a large oval driveway, the separate "coach house" 2-story garage, and believe it or not, a 3-story tree house in the back yard!  There my friend and I lived out a perpetual "mystery" which was most likely inspired by Scooby-doo and later enhanced by The Goonies.  Each day we'd play there, we'd run around and pretend like we'd found clues to a mystery.  Admittedly, my friend would create some of these items and strategically place them in precarious places around the property but I was none the wiser.

It was all about being a kid!  100% innocence and imagination and well before being spoiled by the burst of personal computers and home video game systems that came in the early-1980s.  He and I would trounce about playing out various pretend situations (CHiPs, Emergency!, The Dukes of Hazzard, even Pac-Man) sometimes with his younger brother and sister in tow, and all the while still attempting to discover the secrets of the elusive "mystery."  Oh, it was all very secretive and something we'd spend nearly all our younger years trying to solve but it was always fun, always adventurous, and always the underlying focus of all our playing.

Le Discret by Joseph Ducreux (1735-1802) is one of those paintings that doesn't necessarily call attention to the subject or circumstances but rather to the emotion being evoked.  Granted, the individual portrayed does appear to be hoping he can avoid certain peril but I think it lends to the rush one gets when faced with a situation where one feels frantic to keep something very, very secret.  Ducreux uses gentle strokes to bring out an incredible amount of character and mixed with subtle, Earthy colors, the work draws our eyes immediately to the face and hand.  Brow raised but concerned, hand wrought with urgency, and the eyes whispering to our very souls, "Shhh!", I find this painting to be an example of how my heart felt each day my friend and I would feel the pressures of unknown forces as we found something new and intriguing to further reveal the truth behind an invisible enigma.

Now, it should be mentioned that Joseph Ducreux was the man responsible for painting the infamous Marie-Antoinette for King Louis XVI of France before he was to marry her.  Having never seen the woman face-to-face, the king dispatched Ducreux to Vienna, Austria in hopes his well-known talents could capture the beauty well enough to ease his anxious soul.  Many of you have probably heard of this betrothal and I'm sure you men can relate, such a circumstance would certainly bode the same level of anxiety, especially if you were king.  Ducreux's painting of Marie-Antoinette was completed before she turned 14 which was her age when finally wed.  If you're unfamiliar with the whole story, I'd highly recommend checking Wikipedia; it is a fascinating unraveling of history, indeed!

But I digress.  Have you got a secret?  Are you holding back information from others because of a sense of urgency or out of honor?  Can you feel the same pressure our subject feels when facing awkward situations that could easily be quelled should what you know be spilled?  In any case, I'm sure we've all had those moments in life whether as a child or adult where we are given the task of keeping something secret.  In some cases, it's rather humbling.  In other cases, it can make us feel extremely powerful.  And of course, in many cases, it can be downright uncomfortable.

For me, secrets are an every day thing.  In my line of work, I am faced with meeting dozens of individuals whose actions and personal details must remain private from others.  Thanks to having a job that gains a lot of publicity, I get to know many people and it's not always their good side.  Ironically enough, who I am in my job is also a secret despite millions of people know "who" I am.  Ultimately, I tend to rely on the emotions I felt as a child when I was busy keeping our mystery a secret, searching for new clues, and hoping to strategically find the answers without giving up what we knew.  Don't ask me how it all worked, I just know it was the best time of my life and I miss it dearly.  Do me a favor, though?


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