|"Defying the Current;" mixed media|
I've been thinking a lot lately about perserverance, about sticking things out even when all seems impossible, about picking up the pieces of failures and building anew.
I'm not always a very good "get back upper." I am a champ at falling down, gold medalist and straight A student in that department. My record for recovery from missteps, stumbles and outright fall-on-my-face blunders is, however, rather inconsistent. Sometimes, I bounce back, roaring in defiance and ready to kick failure in the teeth. And sometimes, ugly truth be told, I do nothing more than splash around in my own tears and lament my fate. I'm working on that, in art and in life. It helps to remember (and learn from) past successes.
This piece is really, really old and I remember exactly the circumstances of its creation. It was early 2001. I was recovering from back-to-back hand surgeries: the removal of three bones from my right wrist and the shortening of my left radius. I was in physical therapy and it was long, difficult, painful work. I'm right-handed and after surgery, my only task was to simply wiggle my fingers. I slowly progressed to making a fist and gently moving my wrist. In the middle of all of this, I was just starting my art degree while raising my son alone. The diagnosis of and subsequent treatment for Kienbock's disease had knocked me to my knees. But I absolutely refused to be defeated and this collage was the first art piece I completed after surgery. The fishes were painted on watercolor paper and then cut out with an Xacto knife. It was tough work with tender hands and ill-advised according to my physical therapist. I didn't care; nothing and no one was going to keep me from doing what I loved.
In both art and life, it is so very important to hang on to memories of success because that is what fuels and instructs you when you fail. If that painting/drawing/journal page/poem just isn't working, skip back to one that did. Think about why it worked. Mine your past shining moments for clues to handling life's belly flops. My fish collage reminds me to be tenacious, positive, unrelenting. In this piece, I see courage when others say all is lost. It reminds me that even when I am broken, I remain powerful. I reach for that memory, harness it and use it to pull myself upright again.