In my younger years, from time to time, I would have a vision come to me. I would be standing in front of a giant frame of stretched canvas, larger than my own body, using a large paintbrush to make broad strokes across the expanse of white.
Never mind the metaphor here.
I would be zapped with inspiration to create something beautiful, something rich with soulful color, something big, and powerful.
Then I would go on with my day and think on it no more for a good long while. When the image returned, I might say out loud, “I have this urge to paint.”
My friend or my son might reply, “You mean, like, paint these walls?”
“No, like on a canvas.”
“Oh.” End of chat.
But then I got to a point in my mid-50’s when I decided to spend my one hundred dollars of birthday cash – Thank you Mom – at Michael’s craft store. I strolled down the aisle with my cart and filled it with brushes, a few tubes of primary colored paint, numerous small canvasses and a pack of canvas boards. No easel, no palette, no extras at all. I hauled it home, and that night, I sat down to paint this:
I gave one to my sister and one to my mom, and I was absolutely pleased as punch. For a woman in her 50’s to paint such whimsical 5×5 inch works of art with zero drawing and absolutely no prior classes was satisfying. I was just fine with my sister or mom chuckling at them, or even tossing it away. I did not give a damn if they approved. I approved, and that was enough.
Never mind the lack of any suitable gel coat to smooth its texture; never mind the fantastic lack of definition and the absurdly small canvas. It was the best time I had had alone with my sober self in…well…maybe ever.
For the one hour I took to create them, I felt alive. I felt fulfilled. I felt spiritual. I felt like maybe I was not such a bad person. I felt like I was more interesting and more interested in the world. I did not spend any moment of that hour wondering what other people were doing without me. I didn’t think about who I should invite over. I did not think about food. I was utterly consumed with the act of creation. My creation.
I could barely wait to paint something else. As soon as possible.
And that is how I made it through my very first year of being purposefully single. Turns out creativity is the whole deal when it comes to figuring out who you are as an individual, free of others, free of performances for the stage of another’s play.
Today, completely self-taught, I bring in a nice additional income painting for myself and others. The coolest part is that when I run out of supplies, of which there are so many now, I get a little itchy, like running out of cigarettes in the old days. It has been three and a half years of painting now, and I still cannot wait to get at it. Life gets in the way nowadays, and I have to pace myself. I have to stop painting so I can be there for others and maybe even shower and eat.
When I become afraid of being alone, being abandoned, being hurt, growing old and having no value – which is just what I do as a result of my traumatic past – I just picture myself painting some giant canvas, and I know I will be absolutely more than fine. Strangely, this thing has a life of its own. All I had to do was follow the subtle whispering call from beyond.