There Is No Indifference Here
Awhile back, five months or so, a good friend discovered a skin cancer on her that was subsequently dealt with and healed. In the interim, I was afraid of losing her in my life. We’d known each other for about ten years through ups and downs, and as I said, she was my friend.
She’d long wanted me to paint a portrait of her but I hadn’t yet. Within a day of hearing the health threat, I started painting. It was a combo of doing something for someone I cared about, and worry of never seeing her again. It’s where I turn, to painting.
I wrote to her that the portrait was in progress, she was pleased, couldn’t wait to see it. I got updates on her progress and the good news of safe passage.
Around May, she arrived unexpectedly (lives out of state now) with her dopey husband, who tore through my gallery and studio like Grant through Richmond. The husband led the deprecations of my work in general, and most specifically the unfinished portrait of his wife, and then she joined in with him, both ignoring my effort, time, expense, and sure not the caring demonstrated.
I’m not used to that. People WANT me to paint them. My work is generally admired, people are surprised by their emotional connections, and tend to like what I do. And I’m sure as hell not used to it with friends. By the time the painful visit ended, I was gifted with homemade preserves, warned to be careful with the costly jars and make sure I gave them back.
Within five minutes of their departure I had tossed the frigging preserves in the dumpster, stormed back to my studio, wiped off the portrait and started to cover it with what’s turned into a rather nice floral.
And all the while thinking, what the hell just happened to me, what was that, what the hell happened with THEM.
And then, of course, I saw it for all it was. Indifference.
Likely it’s my least favorite human commerce. It’s a powerful weapon and most cruel, and I don’t put up with it much or often. I’ve kicked people out of my gallery if they display it and make strong efforts to defend against it, directed at me or at the work I do. It’s unkind. It’s their loss.
About a week later I started the painting above, THERE IS NO INDIFFERENCE HERE, in reaction. I’d thought about my own life, and the pleasures of simple things, the table laden with food I love, and a lovely napping cat, ocean breezes and starry nights and blooming plants, sand covered and sunburnt from my ocean. I can watch a blade of grass for hours on end. The way the sun and shadow change it, the wind talk, its smells and its relationships to what’s around it. I don’t need conventional complexities to be happy or society’s standards of abundance to be happy, and I know I’m not alone.
So I painted that. Simple pleasures, taking it all in, and no indifference toward the feast of life. Oh! What a life I lead.