12”x 12” Mixed media/panel
Reworked this painting this weekend—it never quite felt resolved perhaps because it was made during a jagged moment in my life. Many moons have passed since the strained period when it was created, and more mountains have been encountered and surmounted, by me and everyone. I’m including the original essay below because the sentiment still resonates.
It takes but a few moments to step outside of my own swirling world of private issues, concerns, and worries, and really look someone in the eye and ask them how they are doing. Crucially, to make the space to get beyond our standard cursory responses of “I’m good”, “Fine”, “Busy!” obliges allowing the time to sincerely listen. There’s no smart phone, wifi, or google required, just patience, sincerity, and genuine friendship.
I’m often hurried between tasks within a day, but lately I’m trying to make the effort to slow the train down—or at least recognize the other passengers on this shared ride. Fairly soon one realizes that everyone either has faced serious personal issues at some point, or is in that moment being challenged. The more I allow room to learn about others, the more amazed and inspired I am by the amazing integrity and sheer grit of so many “average” folks, even people I may have known for years whose stories I never made the time to learn.
Sometimes we get to stroll through gentle meadows, but it seems eventually we all have to confront some hills. We naturally tend to get wrapped up in our personal journeys, struggling to figure out how we’re gonna conquer that nearest mountain in front of us. Maybe we’ve chosen them, set a goal, planned and prepared; maybe they choose us. Occasionally maturity helps us anticipate the unseen hill, or at least figure how to make use of the momentum we’ve built up when our path reaches it. At times a mountain rises out of nowhere and in an instant we’re obliged to let go of our planned course. Suddenly we have to reset our heads and hearts, maybe even cling to a nearby rock ledge during the avalanche, locate our communal or inner resources, and yes, often still climb onward.
The journeys are personal and unique but I’m coming to see the challenges are inevitable and universal. They press us to face fearful things and dig deep within our selves to discover untapped resources inside. Or they may insist we recognize our limits, ask for assistance beyond ourselves, accept we need others to keep going. In either case, we are humbled, expanded, and forever enriched, because we recognize in our being the fragility and potency of our shared humanity. The rich tapestry of our timeless human bond is renewed.
Every journey has some mountains; every mountain is sacred.