When was the last time you discovered something on your commute to work, a casual stroll in the park or simply doing what you usually do? When was the last time you actually took the time to see something new? It seems that nowadays we are so overloaded with “stuff” that our minds are never at rest. And what may be even worse, it seems that when we get the opportunity to have some space, we run away from it and quickly look for ways to distract ourselves.
On my trip to London last year I had the wonderful gift of time just for me, time to do what I wanted and simply enjoy on my own. While walking the city for long hours, I had the opportunity to “people watch” and to observe and enjoy my surroundings. During one of those walks I noticed people looking down as they crossed the Millennium Bridge. They looked as if they had lost something, but they were smiling and taking photos, so I also started looking down and discovered tiny artwork in gum that had gotten stuck in the tread of the bridge. Gum is not your typical canvas, but Ben Wilson, also known as Chewing Gum man took his passion, his talent and used it to produce genuine smiles, creative designs and to leave a mark in one of the most famous cities in the world. His work takes time, up to three hours a piece, time he spends working on his creation and talking to people who often ask to take a photo with him and even request designs in memory of loved ones.
Ben Wilson started painting on chewing gum in 1998 and he has created more than 10,000 pieces all over the UK. In case you are worried, he isn’t breaking the law because the gum is already discarded. He says he “transforms it into something beautiful that people would like to look at”. I don’t think throwing gum in public places is a good thing, but I do find inspiring Ben’s desire to make art from something unexpected, something people see as garbage. I love his dedication and persistence as he labors year after year without pay or expectations, but for the simple reason that he loves what he is doing and he enjoys making people happy as they see his artwork. I love that his pieces remind us to look, to observe and to see beyond what we expect. He is inviting us to discover and be delighted with little things we may find on our way.
How will you share your talents? What will you discover today? Every day is an opportunity to Keep looking and be surprised.