An expression of love

“Encouragement is the greatest form that love can take” — Barbara Blackman

Years ago I had a girlfriend who worked at the National Gallery of Australia and I used to enjoy getting a personal tour of the exhibitions she'd helped put together.

While looking at the Federation exhibition she remarked how one painting had been loaned by the Australian Government from the Governor General's residence, where it had accumulated years of smoke that needed to be cleaned off. This reminded me of a sociology lecturer's remark that the rise and decline in tobacco smoking had been one of the biggest social changes in the 20th Century.

One of the last exhibitions this girlfriend invited me to see was Joy Hester and Friends in 2001 and Barbara Blackman was at the opening.

I didn't meet Ms Blackman but she made an impression on me as she was holding onto my girlfriend's arm. I'd arrived late to the opening and the two of them were standing near whoever was opening the exhibition.

My girlfriend smiled at me when she spotted me in the crowd and I was surprised to see that Ms Blackman's head turned toward me in response.

Even though I could see nothing had been said between the two of them, the blind woman had also registered my presence.

It's been an example for me about how many other senses we draw on everyday. Humans use sight as their primary sense and I often wonder whether it's a detriment that we don't better use others.

Encouragement is the theme articulated by Barbara Blackman in the quote above and if she hadn't made an impression on me at that exhibition opening I might've missed her opinion in The Guardian today.

I am very grateful for the encouragement I've received from those who love me. At different times it's made a difference to my life.