Victoria Crowley, November 19, 2011

One day, a very poor painter decided he was going to paint a masterpiece. There was only one problem. This painter was poor. However poverty was not this painter’s only characteristic. He was also a brilliantly strategic thinker. All his material possessions had been obtained through the execution of some creative plan that didn’t cost him a thing. Remember, this painter was very poor.

He certainly had quite the collection. On a shelf he had built from left-over wood at a construction site and nails he had picked up at a junk yard, he kept a myriad of books. These books were old editions of collegiate texts, classic novels that no longer had a front or back cover, pages that were bound together by aged yarn, manuscripts penned by the author herself. On the painter’s wall were plastered pages from old Bibles and discolored sheet music.

Besides being poor and brilliant, this painter possessed another peculiarity about him: he was color blind. What’s more, he had never painted a stroke in his life. Nevertheless, this painter decided he was going to paint a masterpiece.

This decision made a permanent impression on his mind when he met her. She was this girl who always felt the trees and smelled the flowers and sang to the sky whenever she wandered the park. He saw her for the first time as he was sitting on a bench, reading one of his tattered books. He wanted to say something to her; but he was so afraid he might scare her away, so he just watched.

About two months later, the painter saw this girl again; but this time, she wasn’t feeling the trees. She was ripping at the bark and pounding at the trunk. She wasn’t smelling the flowers. She was trampling them with her feet as they ran for another tree to rip and pound. She wasn’t singing to the sky; she was screaming. The painter silently watched from his tranquil position on the bench, wondering why the soul in front of him seemed so tortured.

Finally, the girl stood still; she happened to be facing the painter. She took a few steps in his direction, towards where he was sitting on the bench. The painter stiffened. Now was his chance to say something, but what?

A little angry?”

What was he thinking? The painter was about to apologize for his ill-chosen words when the girl stopped. She was now only standing a few yards away.

The painter didn’t know what to do. The girl seemed to be looking directly at him, so he just waited.

“Hello? Were you watching me?” The girl’s voice sounded confused.

“Uh, yes…sorry,” was the painter’s apologetic stutter.

The girl came closer, paused to look up at the sky, and then continued walking in the painter’s direction.

“What’s your name?” he ventured, hoping for redemption. Startled, the girl stopped. Now she was only standing a few feet away.

You’re still here?” This time she sounded embarrassed. “I thought you had left.”

“No, I’m still here,” the painter answered. It was his turn to be confused. “Do you want me to leave?”

“I don’t know,” the girl indecisively stammered.

“That’s fine. I can leave.”

The painter looked around him, as if he had an array of personal items about him to collect. He stood to his feet, then added, “The bench is all yours!”

As he started walking away, he stole one final look at the girl. A wave of relief had washed over her face. She looked as if she was about to say something, but the painter was too flustered for any more interaction with her. He scurried back to his abode.

Victoria Crowley is an English teacher and missionary in Taipei, the capital city of the Island of Taiwan. She’s been living abroad ever since she graduated from college and finds living life on the international spectrum refreshingexhilaratingeye-opening, and everything she was born for. She is originally from the US, where she grew up in Marysville, Washington.

This woman is a writer and a media designer. She graduated from Crown College, St. Bonifacius, Minnesota, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. She finds herself putting her degree to use in surprising and creative ways here in Taipei, and she never feels like any of her time is wasted. She owes everything she knows to her parents, mentors, and professors in college.

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