My fellow undergrads and I used to wink at each other in amusement over the repetition of this magical phrase, “texturally rich,” that occurred with such impressive frequency in the comments and instructions of our drawing and printmaking professor. Then I grew up (a little). And became an art teacher at the same undergraduate institution. And caught myself using that same well-polished phrase myself, with no doubt equal frequency, if not more. Because, as I learned, the influence of textural variety, depth, accuracy, placement, and inventiveness can be incredibly subtle and amazingly powerful at the same time. This, as it happens, was a hallmark of that professor’s ways of living and teaching as well.
The more I learn, the more I have come to value that aspect equally. Noticing, respecting, and imitating a wide range of life’s textures in my own not only is more fulfilling, exciting, interesting, and enriching than not for me, but I find that it helps me to better understand and admire others and their respective multitudes of characteristics and quirks. And, in turn, to attempt to incorporate those, literally and figuratively. If I see the world around me as one smooth, flat, undifferentiated expanse of sameness, I have no need to learn and grow, and no real opportunities to do so. If I take note of all of the colors and shapes, thoughts and beliefs and ideals, of those around me and the environs in which we spend our time, and make the careful effort to examine these with thoughtfulness and patience, who knows but what I might gain, along with the wrinkles of age that will improve my physical texture, some new wrinkles of wisdom on my brain and new folds of compassion to put others more deeply in my heart.
Not least of all, I am guaranteed to be safe from ennui and protected from inventing for myself an unnaturally uninteresting universe, if I manage to keep my eyes, heart, and mind open to the textural richness all around me.