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Post details: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

When I was in High School my arts teacher had a mild obsession with pointilism. Georges Pierre Seurat was her idol and on the very first class she made us study, analyze and imitate his famous painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte". For the rest of my life, I have had that image indelibly burnt onto my retina - pretty benign and unremarkable on the surface - just a bunch of easygoing Parisians relaxing among trees on a gently descending grassy slope next to a nondescript body of water.

Seurat, who painted it when he was 25, believed that dabbing the canvass with the brush tip brings colors out better than traditional strokes. Perhaps. But the painting's strength lies really in its underlying mood rather than in its technical innovation. The symbiosis of water, lawn, trees, blue skies and picnic accessories fills the scenery with a glow of unusually self-contained and tranquil disposition.

Every now and then, Sundays are just like that. No pressing issues on the foreground and crystal clear skies in the background.

Bunch of guys I used to play soccer with organized a little picnic at the Fletcher Boat house area in DC this Sunday. It wasn't exactly easy to find - the itinerary involved an unexpected and devilishly sharp turn from the Canal Street that was navigable only for Mini Cooper owners or persons above the laws of physics - but after I ran through a long and narrow tunnel, not unlike a rabbit hole, I discovered a hidden gem. A wooded meadow with plenty of picnic facilities and easy access to the Potomac river. Being separated from the mainland by the Ohio - Chesapeake canal, the area could easily pose as an island.

While the organizers readied spicy sausages for a caloric attack and a volleyball net for the subsequent defense, I took a short walk down to the lazy river. As I wended my way through groups of independent picnickers strewn all over the lawn, I realized that I am in the middle of the Georges Seurat's painting. The happy and carefree mood of the picnickers was the dead giveaway. Colors have instantly awoken from their slumber and in a donnybrook of a carnival dance spilled onto the palette - the green tones of the lawn and the trees joyously intertwined with the blue hues of the water and the sky.

Right then and there, all the worries and concerns of the work week were seized and handcuffed by my senses. Imagination spread its picnic blanket and vision became so viscous I could have poured it into a tea cup like honey. It felt as if my whole life had melted. Time itself had slowed down considerably. Those same wheels of history that I saw spinning wildly just a few hours ago on Meet the Press were now purring quietly like a dozing kitten.

As I watched the shattered image of Sun glittering on Potomac's mercurial surface, I spotted the true message of Georges Seurat amidst its reflections. Every so often, we have to make a Sunday jaunt to the island of La Grand Jatte and unhinge the soul from the body. Let it float.

Just to regain our sense of purpose. To refocus our internal perspective. To rebalance our poise. To restructure the debts accrued in the previous week. And in the process - to peck a few dots of beauty on the canvass of our consciousness.



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