The Sound of a Kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
After this trip, mosaics will always be synonymous with Spain. They are everywhere from traditional Roman tile work to Gaudi’s, well, Gaudi-ness. Different from Kintsugi, which honors the broken by highlighting the repair, mosaics take the broken pieces and make them into something entirely new. As grief recovery metaphors go, I like them both equally.
While I was in Barcelona, I came upon a public art piece that I knew I had to share with you. It’s a photo mosaic called El Mon Neix En Cada Besada (The World is Born in Each Kiss), by Joan Fontcuberta. The public submitted individual photos with a general theme of “moments of freedom.” Fontcuberta then arranged them to form the larger art piece.
The Big Picture
It was a perfect example of not being able to see the big picture when we’re too close to it or distracted by something else. I couldn’t get too close to it thanks to some millennials hogging the photo op, but boy was I distracted. I hadn’t seen the Top 10 Instagram spots of Barcelona, so couldn’t understand why they were making kissy faces at nothing. What was the big deal? And since I can’t read Catalan, the title didn’t give it away either.
Ever try to take a photo but were too close and couldn’t get the camera lens to focus? It wasn’t until the girls left and I backed the camera lens up that I saw the whole thing. I’d been so focused on being annoyed, that I missed the art piece in its entirety. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’d been standing there almost ten minutes before I saw it for what it was. I actually laughed out loud when I realized what a complete dork I’d been.
The Little Broken Pieces
One of the many side effects of Grief is that everything becomes a crisis. It is so much more difficult to “handle” the minor trials and tribulations life sends our way. For example, I can remember sitting in the driveway not long after Dan died. I was crying because I’d missed another trash pick up day, something Dan would have never done. Sounds hilarious now, but at the time, it was a freaking world-ending crisis. I was too close to it (literally leaning against the trash can bawling) to remind myself that it was okay, they’d be back next week, and I had a spare trash can. I was so close to it that I didn’t realize that what I was upset about had nothing to do with trash and everything to do with my new post-Dan reality.
As you know, I’ve been traveling long-term through Europe. I was prepared for all the many questions immigration can ask. But this day I came through frazzled, tired and hungry and got the one guy who wanted to play tough cop. While all long-term travelers know the drill, his non-stop questions about my finances, travel plans, etc. really started pushing my buttons. I was too close and losing focus. When he started questioning my life decisions I ended up having to justify my choices after my husband died. He wasn’t impressed and wrapped up our conversation with a stern “get out or else” date.
So yeah, I was pretty close to this one. If I only looked at the little pieces, all I would have seen was a mean immigration agent who almost made me cry, made me miss my bus, and filled 30 minutes of my life with negativity. It took a while for me to breathe through it and remember that I hadn’t done anything wrong except skip lunch. I’d already planned to leave by that date, so it didn’t change my travel schedule. And he let me in when he didn’t have to. Big picture = okay.
Life Lesson Learned
Check that life lesson off the list. Sometimes when we’re so close to an issue, life seems out of control. If we back up and breathe, we can refocus. And surprise, sometimes that picture is still beautiful, even if the individual tiles represent the worst of the broken moments of your life.
So when it feels like everything is falling apart, just take a step back, let the tiny tiles go, and take a good look at the mosaic in front of you.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.