Well, that’s morbid!
This week I was visiting with an artist friend who is facing some pretty major surgery in a few days. We talked about the fact that some of the medical issues have lingered for years and that at one point they had decided to make sure they accomplished a series of goals before age 40. Well, when they reached that age and were still alive, they realized that they’d survived and had done all those list items. Now, facing a new medical challenge, they were prepared to make a whole new list. They’d made it longer than predicted so now, let’s up the ante and keep on keepin’ on. Hearing that a garden was planted made me choke up, knowing the reality was that it would possibly bloom without them. Wow, what a thought. But in my mind I thought, what a positive attitude. Regardless, there was the hope for tomorrow. And yet….they had made certain that the gallery had all their paperwork in order just in case someone besides them had to come collect the work. Reality and hope mixed together.
My list of life accomplishments included many more than two things. I’ve reached multiple goals in life, but the two more recent goals are (1) go to Tuscany, Italy and (2) open an art gallery. Well, resources are limited, so I’ve joked that since I’ve pretty much sunk the majority of my funds into opening the gallery, if I decide in the future I can’t swing the gallery I could actually scratch two things off at once because I’ll be too broke to go to Italy. I try to pour some humor into the reality, but in truth, it’s true.
Hope for the future is a good way to live. We don’t have guarantees about anything. While writing this I’m aware of the terrorist acts in Paris. A few hours ago I was oblivious to it. Life is fragile and in the blink of an eye, it’s gone. And yet, I daily awaken with hope. We cannot live without hope. It’s the life blood of our continuing existence. Without hope we wither, fade and die. Sure, art galleries are closing daily. Not mine….well, I’ve only been open two months. However, I just have a feeling that there are purposes afoot that have nothing to do with me. As I write there is a small community theatre doing a performance in my back room. Later there will be holiday shoppers dreaming of the perfect gift for a loved one. Another time a group of young college men will use the back room for a place to mentor lower classmen. Workshops, demonstrations and classes are being scheduled for the lean months (Jan-Feb). The world needs art in life, on walls, in bedrooms, in dens, in offices; a place to rest the eyes and mind away from the ugliness, stress, and anxieties dumped on us without permission.
When life overwhelms me I do exactly that, I rest my eyes upon the moon painted by Dennis O’Bryant that I “knew” was mine the first time I saw it. Una Luna is displayed in my den where I spend countless hours. Then, in my bedroom I have a beautiful rainy day watercolor by Joe Mraz that is moody and gray. I love to feel myself present there, in the scene. Above my bed are two women, one reclining and one sitting in a park, painted by Scott Imhof. It makes me restful, feel at peace. There are so many more, I couldn’t name them all. Their purpose is to heal, to distract, to fill us with wonder and joy. It works for me better than any drug.
Look to the future without worrying about what might be. It is important to face the reality looming ahead, but do it with grace and purpose like my artist friend is doing. Begin by doing something that will outlast you….maybe a painting, a garden, a story, a piece of pottery, a little place of heaven here on earth that should you leave it, we’ll all know you were here.