A painting can save you from self-destruction. Or at least from smashing a few things. I know this from experience. Case in point:
A man came to town recently for a visit and I knew before he got here that I was making a mistake to see him. I wasn’t fully aware, but aware enough. I’d met him briefly two years ago, attractive to look at but not the kind of guy that inspired trust. But there I was, taking the blind, or not so blind leap again. After four years of voluntarily taking myself out of the game, there I was in the thick of it with yet another Mr. Wrong and a pretty face.
Stevie Nicks was right, “Players only love you when they’re playing.”
I wonder sometimes why the last person I protect is me. It’s not as bad as it used to be. It doesn’t take me months anymore. A few days and the handwriting on the wall is apparent enough that I don’t avoid it. No more playing mental games with myself. No more not being my best self. A temporary glitch. The only thing that bothers me is that when I am not my best self, the other person doesn’t take the opportunity to be their best self either. The bar is low and no one has to rise to it.
But the reality is with this one I didn’t even need a few days. I already knew what I needed to know two years ago. So, I came home early, cut the whole visit a day short, came to my senses. I went back to the things that are at my core. To Torah, and Zohar, and Tanya. And G-d. And of course, back to the core of all that – my paints and brushes.
And what a faithful friend my painting can be. Always there waiting for me. Ready to converse and create, fill my world with colour, hand me great surprises, and just get into the flow with me.
There are some aspects about the painting process that could so nicely translate into meaningful relationships. Thankfully I’ve got some of those in my friendships and family. Create something with someone, flow together, converse and share, learn from and challenge one another, give something the attention it deserves. All great things that in my relationships with men have thus far eluded me, but at least in the studio, and my inner circle, I still find all of that.
The canvas, and that close circle of people that always has your back, never let you down. They each are who they are and give everything they can. They’re there even when you’ve let yourself down. And it’s not a meaningless dance. Despite flaws and not everything being perfect, love still goes a long way and gets everybody through.
And when I paint, I guess that’s what I try to convey too. Trying to spread the love that pours out from me onto the paper and back again…. Some people want it, some people don’t. And despite how heartbreaking it may be, I’m okay with that too. Because I know where it will be received and where it won’t.
Glad I’ve started this “Looking Up” series. I just need to keep looking up, hold my head high, and embrace all that wonder that’s up there and all around me. There’s an old song that’s come to mind just now, something about a circle being unbroken? And I can hear Johnny Cash strumming his guitar….