Something I wrote last night sparked some interesting thoughts in my head today. Last night I made reference to my half painted canvas, which upon a coat of paint, was fully clothed. I thought a lot about that today. Sexuality is a subject that makes many people uncomfortable, not me. (Just ask my horrified children.) To be human is to be a sexual being. To give birth is a sexual experience. When I look at that “virginal” white canvas that I started with yesterday I cannot help but think how much life it gains when paint is laid upon it. I give birth to my art. It becomes vibrant and alive. Think about it. How much great art has been produced through the ages due to love, to lust, or because of frustration? The human condition immortalized in paint, in charcoal, in photograph. The Mona Lisa’s smile, the lusty vivacious work of Georgia O’Keefe, even the loneliness of strangers in a diner in Hopper’s “Nighthawks”. The virginal blank surface that has yet to experience life, it is the artist who is tasked to recreate emotion through color and image. The connection between the work and the artist as a human is singular. As I thought about these things today I realized that my own hesitancy, my own cautious approach to laying the paint upon a surface as a young artist has been replaced with a love for richness, for texture, for color. All reflective of the life already lived. I was timid in my younger self, afraid to put too much paint on the surface, afraid of revealing too much of myself. There is a confidence in aging, a wisdom that the young artist can never have. Even the most skilled artist as a youth will find that the work will grow as the life experience grows as well. Love, heartbreak, loneliness, regret, laughter, joy; the list of emotion is endless, the effect on the artist is immeasurable. I need to respect my own process, my own growth and life experience, to leave more of myself on the canvas.
Several months ago I had made the decision to not be mad any more. As simple as that. Life is too short, and far too often we allow ourselves to be upset about things that just don’t matter. I for one could care less about the condition of my toothpaste tube, I also don’t care which way the toilet paper hangs (as long as it’s there), and I don’t keep score on who does what around the house. I am choosing to focus on being happy, making sure the people I love know that I love them, and feeling like I make a difference in the world. There is of course my relentless recycling, but beyond that in little ways, with individual people, particularly children, I want to feel like something I did touched their life. Much like my Myra and Emma story, I’d like to be the “lady” that a child remembers from their childhood, I don’t even care if they recall my name. These days however I am trying to be to be the rock for a number of people in my life. It is definitely easier with some than with others. Stress, tension, worry, and exhaustion can cause people to lose sight of what is important, they speak without thinking, fly off the handle at nothing, and what ends up happening is the fracture of otherwise loving relationships. I’ve mentioned that Dan is out of work. I can honestly say that these past few months have only proven how much we care for each other. Some weeks are like a see saw, he’s up, I’m down, and vice versa, we support each other through the bad days, and are currently planning for a future business together. During our troubled times I have also been trying to be as much help as possible to two friends who find themselves in very different, but also very difficult situations. Then there is my family, my Dad was injured and then had a bad reaction to some medication. My sisters are worn thin, and again I am trying to be as much help as possible from thousands of miles away. Tonight when I tried to work I found myself unable to concentrate on anything. I started and stopped several pieces. I thought I had given up. I sat at the table and worked with my watercolors, swirling paint on the paper thinking that I was just playing with color. Something began to happen, my swirls of paint began to speak to me. I began to add intended shapes to the page, and in the midst of all of the chaos a solid core. It’s what I feel like these days. I am trying to be what the people in my life need, someone that they can count on in the middle of all of their problems that they know will listen, offer advice, or just offer some support and understanding. Through it all I am trying to maintain my new philosophy of living happier. Sometimes it’s difficult, but what always makes it easier is having Dan by my side.
The thing about being in the middle of not great stuff happening in your life is that the really important things, the things that really mean something, start to stand out even more. I think we as society get so caught up in work and money, and the race of every day life we sometimes tend to only look at the big picture, and lose sight of the small things, and most of the time those are the things that mean the most. I have a beautiful home, and it’s full of beautiful things, but these days I find myself not caring about “stuff”. Instead I find myself appreciating what it means to have a home when so many people don’t, and being grateful that we had a little money when trouble hit. I have been married for twenty-four years, and have been spending every minute of every day for the last three months with my husband, and what has come out of that is the really, really important stuff. Such as? Despite troubles, a lot of support, a lot of understanding, a lot of worrying together, surprising to some, a lot of laughter, and most of all a lot of love. I was thinking about that earlier today and it inspired what I did tonight. I was in the mood to something different. I have a couple of photos I’ve taken over the last few years of hearts. Not the typical Valentine heart, but just noticing the shape in structures, in nature, and weirdly in a tar formation in a parking lot. inspired by what is the focus of my life these days, and the photographs I’ve taken, I wrote a verse and created a collage. Collage is definitely outside my comfort zone. The randomness of it is at odds with the perfectionism issue I have.
I only know this, whatever happens in our life we will always have what’s important, and that is each other.