Within the first couple of weeks of being in the city of Philadelphia, my community members and I stumbled across an old stripped down mural that was once displayed prominently on the side of a building. However, now it resembles something like a black blob. I pointed out the black unidentified figure, stating that it looked like a gorilla. However, both Kelsey and James saw two completely different images. Kelsey imagined it being an eagle and James believed it was someone seated. All in all, we saw something completely different, yet were looking at the same image. The “inkblot” mural became somewhat of a hot topic in our community, to the point that when we had visitors, we would ask them to tell us what they saw. As an Augustinian Volunteer, we were all given the same experience of living a year filled with simplicity, community and spirituality. Yet we have all been able to create our own and different experiences out of this year.
Recently, we found ourselves once again walking past the mural, only this time we stopped a smiling bystander, Saleem, for his opinion on the image. His response could not have been more perfect. He stated that the black blob looked like a gorilla. When bringing a complete stranger into the community conversation about the image, it made me come to a realization that not only do our different experiences allow us to grow, but they also bring joy to one another. Our curiosity about the old mural could easily have been remedied by a quick Google search. However, I think that by doing so, the argument about what this used to resemble would lose meaning. In the end we still hold our own beliefs of what it used to be and we respect that.
In everyday life, we can look at the black blob on the building and think it’s only one specific image or we can absorb the thoughts of those around us and broaden our imaginations and the way we look at life. For example, I could be running down the same exact street as a businessman on the phone and could get a completely different experience out of my surroundings than the man. The important part about this idea is not that what we see is what makes us who we are, but that we must be able to listen to the persuasion of others and understand why they see something different. While living in community, we may have different ideas and points of views, but in the end, we are able to live in harmony with one another’s ideas. We find the joy of sparking conversations between ourselves and making arguments of how it is clearly a gorilla over an eagle or a man sitting. The idea that we all have something to bring to the table, from our own experiences and our own views on life, represents the purpose and success of being an AV.
Philadelphia, PA 2017-2018