Love. It’s one of those words we all throw around and claim that it conquers things and makes the world go round and is all you need. I think those statements are about as true as “time heals all wounds”. Time doesn’t heal jack. Do you know what heals? Growth, learning, paying attention to another person’s story, understanding a little better why the hurt came and why you felt it so deeply, coming to terms with the fact that life happens, accidents happens and most importantly for me, that I am sometimes the cause of another’s hurt. These revelations and so many more things come to us over time, but it’s not time itself that heals wounds. And it’s not just love that conquers all.
I will concede one thing that I believe about love and that is that loving ourselves enough that we learn how to find some peace and joy in daily life gives us the confidence to face the pain we encounter, forgive others and more importantly than forgiving, to feel empathy. It allows us to see beyond ourselves to understand that others are also fighting battles that we cannot understand, which helps us to let go of anger of being offended and judgment. But….and this is a very hard lesson…that does not mean our love itself can change circumstances, heal another from their physical or mental ailments or force others to make choices that would bring them greater happiness and so much less sorrow. And, perhaps one of the hardest lessons, it does not require us to stay in a situation in which we are being hurt in any way by a person to prevent that person from experiencing the pain of being removed from our lives. LOVE, in and of itself, is not all you need. What we need are all the the actions that love inspires us to take, the words it inspires us to say and the things it inspires us to think and believe.
So….why do I have so many pieces that are centered on love? Well….for one, they always sell! If I’m being completely honest…. 😉 And why is that? I’m sure there are a thousand answers. For me, I believe it is at the core of all we do and all we want out of life. It is the great motivator, just not the end result. When we love and respect and find peace with ourselves, it leads us to want that peace and happiness and love for others, which leads us to act on those desires and affect change and reach out in whatever ways we can. Maybe it sounds selfish to think loving ourselves is so important, but I truly believe it is. It’s hard to love our neighbor as ourself if we don’t love ourself first.
I know that in the grand scheme of life, I will only truly affect a very small number of people, and that’s okay. I hope in some way I can inspire my kids and friends and acquaintances to love themselves and do good so they will in turn affect others in a positive way, and those “others” will affect even more others, and so on. Real love inspires nothing but good. And that’s why I think people buy these love pieces, whether its a card or a pillow or a piece of art, so they can have these little reminders of something good.
You know, I’ve had better weeks. As I was packing some things up to work on at the studio today, I found this piece that I started a couple of months ago. Sometimes I create happy sea stars and fun octopuses. And then sometimes, I am inspired by life and how it changes. How it pushes and pulls you in these different directions, forcing you to either change with it or hold steady and fight it. And the best solution isn’t always the same choice. Sometimes it’s about the happy things that inspire us–cute animals, beautiful scenery, vibrant colors or a great new piece of fabric. And sometimes, it’s the not-so-happy things and in those moments of pain and struggle, I often visualize images that seem to parallel what I’m going through.
One of those moments reminded me of this painting I had created years ago for a primitive styled production of La Pastorela. In this little Christmas play, there is a very literal mouth of hell. For this production, the director just wanted a very simple, fantastical design and this was my rendering for that backdrop. I don’t know why I thought about it all these years later, but I pulled it out of my stash of paintings and decided I would turn it in to a textile piece. It seemed symbolic of where my life was and I wanted to create something a little less happy-beach-day and a little more true to what I was experiencing. That said, I am an optimist and I always like to feel there is hope. I’ve been contemplating a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel piece for quite some time, and thought it might be cool to combine those two ideas and have the tunnel be this demonic mouth of hell, as that’s what it felt like I was faced with at the time. I came across this Robert Frost quote that I felt fit so perfectly: “The best way out is always through.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the difficulties of my life these past few years, it’s that. There are no short cuts. There are no easy paths that will allow me to circumvent the pain and stress and sorrow that my situation brings me. It is only in walking through the fire that I will be able to pass my demons and step out of the darkness, over those sharp teeth and into the sunshine that awaits. I don’t know how long it will take to feel that fresh air again. Sometimes I feel the breeze and the warmth of the sunshine and know it is getting closer. Sometimes it seems to take forever. But, through it all, I know there’s only one way to go, and that’s to face it head on and walk straight through.