In my first semester of college, I took an introductory Creative Writing Class. My teacher was this lean, boyish, short-haired chinita who comes to class in a plain shirt and jeans. The best adjective I can think of to describe her teaching method is “swabe” (filipino slang for smooth). She gets across her points in an authoritative yet totally chill kind of way.
I also loved her exercises. One day, she brought a white T-shirt to class, hung it in front and asked us to write a short story out of it. “Who do you think would wear this? Why would he/she wear this? What was/he she doing when he/she was wearing this? When was he/she wearing this? Where?” she nudged. I couldn’t remember what I was able to come up with anymore but I hope it wasn’t that bad. Haha.
I think I also got the habit of people watching from her. We were on the topic of character sketching, when she talked about observing people wherever we are. Character Sketching is basically the creation of a character – assigning a face, features, habits, job, hobby, marital status, superpowers, what have you to a name. She said that observing was good practice in developing a character. By examining the external, you may actually draw conclusions about what a person does or how a person is.
I can still remember the example that she gave. She said that when you are in line for coffee at Starbucks, observe the person before you. Look at her hand when she pays for her drink. Is it rough? Look at her hair. Is it neat or does it look like it has been tousled? What kind of clothes is she wearing? Is she in an office attire? When she turns and faces your way, look at her face. Does she have smooth skin? Does she look tired? Does she look happy? How does she speak? Will she say thank you? If her hand’s rough, her hair’s untidy, looks tired, has wrinkled skin and in an office attire, then perhaps she’s a working mom who does physical things at home like wash clothes. She balances a lot on her plate that’s why she looks tired. She is that tired that she doesn’t feel like smiling and thanking the person on the counter.
Did you see how a character was drawn out from that? See the picture painted? Made me think of myself. Not really in a vain kind of way. Just you know, what if somebody observes me the same way? What kind of person would that observer think I am? As a Christian, that matters a lot to me. Will that person see the joy and love of the Lord in me?
This long recollection of that Character Sketching lesson only reminds me to be careful of the way I live – the way I speak, the way I act, the way I respond, the way I present myself to others. To be seen in the likeness of God is no easy feat but I believe that If I make it a point to always focus in Him, it may just come naturally. Hopefully and by God’s grace, I display a pretty picture.
How about you? How do you think other people see you?