Coronavirus response: Trust

I created this painting specifically as a portrait of the virus so when looking at it I tried to see where the virus showed up for me. The answer is that it was pretty overwhelming to me how present it really was. I saw it in the black lines going everywhere, in the red lines that spread across the whole page like creepy long fingers that reach into places they are not supposed to go, or like a fire that burns uncontrollably. I saw it in the balls of chaotic lines and in the washed out colours that are all over this painting, not always finding their proper place.

When is enough enough?

Some paintings just never seem to find an ending. They keep asking for more. They keep tugging my sleeves with their invisible fingers. They call me like sirens into the deep.

For these paintings there is no such thing as enough. All one can truly know with such a painting is that doing more, working on it a little harder will not make the painting better. Do you know that sensation: you can clearly see something is still off, something doesn’t feel quite right but you also know that nothing you could do would improve it. This is such a painting for me.

If this painting shows the virus, then it shows me that it’s everywhere, affecting every domain of life. And that there is nothing you can do that would make everything OK again.

Even though the overall painting is not sitting quite right with me, there are some parts of the painting that I do like. The parts that fascinate me in this painting are the “quiet corner” in the bottom-left corner, the “splendidly beautiful circle” in the middle and the “simple loop” in the top left corner. They inspire me. They tell me that it’s ok because they are there. The painting as a whole may not sit right with me, those parts do so all the more. Maybe those parts feel all the more right because the whole feels so off. Or maybe I can just see them more clearly now.

If this painting shows the virus, then it shows me that there is still beauty, simplicity and quietness to be found. Even if it doesn’t feel quite right.

The virus and me

It’s all you
I see that now.
Traces of me
can still be noticed
by the careful observer.

I have gathered them
in my quiet corner.
I have planted them
Beneath the surface
of the earth.

Some here, close by.
Some far away, out of reach.
To grow as they will.
To blossom, in time
into splendid wildness.

You too will fade away,
like me, now.
I let you pass through
and yet I resist.
I let you pass through
and yet I grasp.

I hold out
My lonely hand
For a touch
Of beauty.

Trust

If this painting is the virus then I can see that it reduces me to my most humble parts. The parts that are vulnerable and tender. We usually compensate for these parts with our vigour, our confidence and our knowing. These tender parts are aching. So I am brought back to the beginning where I simply hold out my hand, where trust needs to grow again that something will come.

Trust is that which comes before all our actions, before we could ever do anything. When trust is absent, all our doing has the taste of fixing something that doesn’t feel quite right. Trust is that which gives us the strength to sit in the fire.

There is nothing I can do now to make it all better. But can I trust that the simplicity of being, the flow of beauty and the quiet emptiness of this great pause will guide me through? I wonder if these things are more available, more present, more observable now that I am less in the distractions of the everyday? How is that for you?

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