In May 2016 it was my pleasure to collaborate with my good friend and colleague Julio Brenes on an illustrated story for the winter issue of MAS Context. MAS Context is a quarterly journal and the masterstroke of Iker Gill and his team at MAS Studio in Chicago. It endeavours to spark conversations around a particular theme, and how that theme is manifest in the urban environment. For Julio and I our brief was to explore the concept of ‘Hidden’ by investigating an aspect of our urban context that may be overlooked, not readily apparent, forgotten, or conceptually or physically removed from sight. In response, I wrote a short fable named ‘Preoccupied’ which may be read in MAS Context’s ‘Hidden’ issue with accompanying illustrations by Julio.
‘Preoccupied’ is a series of urban vignettes in rhyming stanza that illustrate missed moments in public life. Each verse features a different character, and collectively they form a familiar portrait of contemporary society. The characters represented – though well-intentioned as they may be - fail to see beauty or opportunity around them.
And behind a veil of distraction, the city is hidden.
If you work in the city, or if it’s where you reside,
Its streets are the playground where people collide.
Busy and bustling, it’s a great place to be,
Down laneways, up lamp posts…there’s so much to see!
But if you’re distracted, or when you’re absorbed,
Or feeling a little tired or grumpy or bored,
A moment may pass that you won’t see again…
A smile from a stranger as you wait for the train.
So lift up your eyes and open your mind,
It may well delight you, the things that you find!