Ah, Life! Blessed Life…

Written on 03/08/2019
Jeane George Weigel

Those of us who grow do so by developing our moral imaginations and expanding our carrying capacities for pain and bliss…” Mary Pipher, New York Times

By the time we’re older, like me and some of you, we come to know that life is hard. I look at this ancient village where I live in the mountains of northern New Mexico, founded in 1754, now buried in a winter’s worth of snow, and I think about all the skill it took to continue life here over the centuries.

They only had a few guns, a couple I think I’ve read, and almost no metal. They made their tools with fire-hardened wood. If you knew about our dry, hard, rocky soil you’d understand what an undertaking digging ditches and post holes and plowing and weeding was.

But we human beings are relentless. Knock us down and we all get back up, until we just can’t anymore. It’s how we’re built. We’re meant to continue, to survive, no matter what.

I think about the elderly who may have been here in the middle of the 18th century, the babies and the children. How hard it must have been to carve out a good living here. But communities banded together and supported each other, barricading themselves inside the mud plaza walls along with the animals during Indian raids.

By the 1800s the Indians and the villagers worked and lived nearby each other accepting that cooperation was a better plan for survival than warring.

The bottom line is that most of the time we figure it out, what we need to do, and then we do it if we can.

I recently had a big health catastrophe. Basically, the base of my spine collapsed, meaning my sacrum slipped and you simply can’t imagine the pain. It made shingles seem like a day in the park.

And this just after I had begun to paint again! Remember, I was going to post some photos? Best laid plans…

This definitely was NOT in my plans, this massive body crisis. In fact, getting back into the studio after more than 3 1/2 years was such a miracle that I thought, I don’t know what I thought…

… that I was rising above the illness that’s held me back all this time…

… that it was “meant to be.” A new beginning.

The view through the screen of one of my studio windows

And Kim was busy painting too. It felt like life was finally coming back, that I was actively reaching for the best recovery I could cultivate–that of getting on with it.

Kim heading to his studio

The hope of it all was thrilling, really…

… because a part of me believed I’d never paint again!

So to get into the studio, to put brush to canvas was to believe again, to trust.

To complete a canvas…

… pack it into the car…

… plow a path through the yard (my front drive was impassable)…

… and venture out onto the land grant road…

… to deliver the piece to my gallerist, Bill Franke, who owns and curates the very special Hand Artes Gallery, here in Truchas…

… along with my good friend, Lorey, who wanted to be there…

… was a marvel I still wonder at. How’d it happen?

Seeing it hung on the main wall of what I think of as “my room” but is more formally known as the piano room, made it splendidly real.

And I continued to paint, completing two canvases and had a third begun before the collapse.

So it just seemed too cruel! ANOTHER physical challenge to my getting on with the life I’ve felt destined to find. I was really and truly ready to give up.

But I have friends, three of them in particular, and they would not let me q because they believed in my ability to get through this. They fought for me and brought me back when I no longer had the resources myself.

At the easel in my jammies

And miraculously one day I found myself in front of the easel again, barely able to stand. I worked the existing canvas and told one of my friends that it felt like a scream of recovery.

The piece below isn’t the finished painting. I don’t have a shot of that and I’ve lost my camera (don’t worry, I’ll find it)!

But the point I’m trying to make, and there is a point I think, is that life and art are much the same. Each is an urgent need, a sort of yearning unto itself. Kalil Gibran wrote in The Profit of children as being, “… the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself…” and that’s how I see art.

There is a yearning in all of us to create. Those of us who have chosen the act of creation as our path, do so because we have no other choice. It is in us to paint, to sculpt, to write, to sing.

And the art will be born. And the artist will present herself to the easel until she can no longer stand, “… expanding [her] our carrying capacity for pain and bliss.”

Second canvas finished, a reworking of an older piece

I want you all to know how very well I’m doing now. I’m painting, obviously and writing, as you can see. I’ve lost 30 (count ’em) pounds, I’m getting stronger and stronger, my energy is returning and I am once again a person who believes. Even in myself.

And I’ve just found my camera! More posts on the horizon…

Love to y’all,