A spring cold gathered momentum on Thursday morning requiring medication to keep my fever in check. There were studio guests arriving on the island and a painting class to teach. Both pleasant activities though I was functioning far below optimum. However, I simply proceeded.
Only while doing a quick painting sketch at the edge of the pond in the Japanese Garden did I forget how miserable I was feeling.
This was likely because I did not need to talk and I was warm in the afternoon sun.
Last evening I was reminded of this moment while reading about the chemical attack in Syria. I asked myself, when do we break and crumble under the weight of adversity? When is it that we can no long simply proceed, as if it was only a common spring cold?
Earlier in the day I had read Dina Nayeri’s powerful article “The Ungrateful Refugee: ‘We have no dept to repay’” which was the long read in The Guardian on Tuesday April 4, 2016. I will share with you just her closing paragraph….
“Still, I want to show those kids whose very limbs apologise for the space they occupy, and my own daughter, who has yet to feel any shame or remorse, that a grateful face isn’t the one they should assume at times like these. Instead they should tune their voices and polish their stories, because the world is duller without them – even more so if they arrived as refugees. Because a person’s life is never a bad investment, and so there are no creditors at the door, no debt to repay. Now there’s just the rest of life, the stories left to create, all the messy, greedy, ordinary days that are theirs to squander.”
After dinner, I was reading an opinion piece in the New York Times by Ariel Dorfman bring “A Message From the end of the World” in Santiago Chile. In his climate change impact summary of events on the southern tip of the Americas, he tell us about the widening of the gap in the Antarctica ice shelf and how it will eventually crash into the sea causing a rise in seawater. Chile is the first place that will be impacted.
I leave the table with plans to come write today’s blog post. But I don’t. Instead I simple proceed to clean up the kitchen and stay with these feelings of overwhelming disgust, horror, helplessness and a kind of deep hopelessness. It is too late for a long walk which is my usual line of first defense when the world falls short of my expectations. Instead, I just sit with the feelings, unable to write until this morning.
I should be celebrating with you this week. Two paintings have left the studio for homes of their own and the small postcard size painting sketch that was sent to England for the TwitterArtExhibit sold on opening night. Over $10,000 in U.S. dollars were raised for a local charity, Molly Olly’s Wishes, in the first night. Instead, this morning these bright spots in an artist’s life seem garish, insensitive and above all, unimportant. What to do?
My answer comes easily. I shall post this note and go for a long walk and listen to the spring birds. I shall breathe in time with waves on the sea. I shall inhale the scent of the blossoms on the breeze. I shall run my hands along the length of the arbutus tree. Then I shall paint. This is what a landscape painter does. After this is done, then I shall see if there is anything else I can do. In times like these, first we must simply proceed until we decide what else can be done.
When was the last time you asked yourself to simply proceed?
© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.
Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com