Because a life unexamined is lived without intention.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
I've sat here, staring at the keyboard for over thirty minutes. I've typed two sentences. Erased them both. I am...stumped, feel incapable of communicating my thoughts. The precipice of a chasm, completely unforeseen, that snuck up and sucker punched me on a splendid sunny afternoon.
First, I should say that most of you may think this ridiculous. But to each soul is its own solar system, the gravitational force that keeps the balance....that which maintains. As varied as the fish in the sea are the suns that ground each of us. I went upstairs today to finish a painting. It sold quickly but needed a signature, a touch or two, and a wire. I remember the tumult of the night I'd previously worked on it; a thunderstorm, heartache and a sick child. Interruption and hurry and comfort and....
I opened the window today. Soft breezes scented with lilacs and the color green drifted into the room along with the distant sound of dogs and arguing birds. I flipped the stereo on, chose, pushed play. Hazel settled with a bone to gnaw in the patch of sunlight that pooled on the floor while I piled my hair up and tied it with a scarf out of the way. Humming, I filled the chipped teapot I use for water....and saw it. My brush.
She was shy, unsure. Timidly she stacked the paints and brushes on the scuffed black counter, blushing as she bungled it and tubes tumbled to the floor. He was older, totally "artistic," and oceans out of her league. He smiled and held up a brush with a bright red handle. "This is a really good one." It disappeared into the bag much as she did out the door, cheeks aglow, a checked-off class list clutched in a sweaty palm.
Twenty years ago. I had a tool box I used as my art kit. The little compartments and trays were perfect for charcoals and pastels, graphite, erasers and paint. I remember the smell of the studios in college, blank paper and raw promise. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. How does one find one's place, establish a root within a tangle of talent, and grow?
The years plummeted by, countries and oceans and lives changed. Do you know I painted the twenty-eight canvases for my first show in a windowless basement lit with three bare bulbs....and I was selling plasma to feed my toddler boys. My fingers rubbed the red paint from the handle, and forests fell upon fabric. I sold out.
Betrayal. Divorce. The red paint flaked and I composed skies and oceans and apocalyptic deserts. New love....ferns and sunlight and rivers of liquid hope. The equator leveled.
I didn't rinse it.
Twenty years, not a brush lost. And it was THE brush. Now stiff...rigor mortis. Bristles caked solid with forest pigment, the color of dark wet moss that drapes the ground, kneeling beneath kings and queens of bark. I was interrupted. I forgot. While I have dozens more, liners and fans and tapers and.....there isn't a canvas with my name on it that hasn't felt the stroke of that brush. The handle had warped to fit my fingers.
It's the only way I know to paint a sky.
Most mistakes can be absolved. Apologies and grace and even reparation made. The concrete can be replaced, right?
Do you know, as my awareness of the dependence I had upon this particular brush dawned, I have searched for years for another. Twelve stores....four states. I laughed it off, knowing--absurdly arrogant--that I never forget to religiously cleanse my tools, my fingers, the channels of my dreams into tangible reality. I am absolute. I am careful.
I am...terribly human.
I have purchased over forty brushes in the last three years trying for kin. Tonight I toast the final painting of my crimson brush. I actually sit here wondering if I can do the same with another. Perhaps that is madness to you, but hundreds of dollars trying to find one with the same grip, the sweep, the swirl and glide and hush....
In a day which held darkness and joy of such variety for so many, I am stilled by hairs congealed with neglect. Mine.