The Everglades National Park
FIU IDH 4007

Overcome by the Strangler Fig

A note to accompany "One Possible Reality"
Lara Brudno
IDH 4007
Prof. Machonis
Fall 2002

   I fell in love with Zora Neale Hurston's Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God, because I admire her strength to stand by her decisions in her search for true happiness. The quest could have been wrought with regret and self-pity, for every time she left one life, she lost some measure of security. Every decision has its pros and cons, and indecision is not an option in life, because stagnation is equivalent to automatic failure. Janie recognized this, so at every fork in the road she jumped on the path that felt right without hesitation. The reality that she had created for herself allowed her to be free spirited, free from the limiting bonds that society, culture, and family often incite humans to place on themselves. I long to be free of limitations and regrets.

   Hurston has opened my eyes and touched my heart during a very difficult period in my life, and fantasy artists Charles Meyers and Irene Christensen (Everglades National Park "artists in residence" -- October 2002) have motivated me to introspect using more than just words. In an effort to express my feelings through visual art, however, I have found the need for more words, so without giving away a concrete definition of my pastel, a general explanation follows.

   Each individual creates a reality. Your own reality only exists in your perception, and your perception can change and surely will. Like the growth of a tree, it evolves slowly but surely. Perhaps it is more like the calm aggression of the strangler fig, shrinking your life down to nothing. First, you let it grow on you like a harmless friend; you are so naïve… then one day you realize that not only has it become part of you, it's more than you and you're trapped inside of IT. You've done a good thing though, because by sacrificing your life, you've helped it to grow. You do not need to be independent from it: you need to be a part of something greater than yourself in order to be meaningful. So what does success in life mean? Does it mean that your life is meaningful or does it mean happiness? Can it be both? I suppose that happiness might be a byproduct, but what is important is that you've done the right thing… I want to know what the right thing is… to be yourself and stand as a weak, insignificant, individual, or to be a part of a greater, stronger, thing than yourself? Can you stand inside of such a thing and be happy? I hope so, for HERE, within this strangle hold, I AM SAFE.

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