An artist I’ve known for ages, Enid Smith Becker, posted a photo of her painting Passage. It’s an amazing piece of work – a vision of sky and clouds that seem to go on forever. And yet the landscape dissects into dimensions as though a steady-handed kaleidoscope is also in play.
A visual passage into a changed experience of our world.
I am someone who stares a lot at the world. I watch the sky for the clouds rolling a rainstorm in my direction. I delight in the black arcs of crows soaring across blue sky. I watch in awed silence as the trees sway in silhouette across the night. But despite all this, I would never have experienced this depiction of reality.
I simply stared at the painting because it showed me what I knew in a way that was entirely new to me. An award-winning writer once told me a true artist in paint or print causes “explosions of recognition. ” I saw what I knew, but I hadn’t known I knew it.
And because I am a word nut, I also stuck on the title.
My friend’s mom died a couple of days ago, and she is roiling with anxiety because she is now “next” – even though as we all know there is no delineated schedule. Meanwhile, spring is shuffling closer and so I am out there watching the new leaves inching up from the ground. The daughter of a friend posted a picture of her six month old grinning toothlessly into the camera. A dear friend put out a harsh meme against refugees.
We are walking so many landscapes of joy, despair, beauty, life and death.
My friend who lost her mom says when we are born we are issued a map with only one red dot on it. When we reach the end of life we get to take it out and see the roads we’ve traveled and the last red dot – our ultimate destination. I never found a superhighway for my travels. There have been back roads, and detours, and rest stops where I’ve met the most unexpected people.
I have seen thunderstorms roll across a Wyoming landscape, held someone I loved as they died, tasted Ethiopian cuisine in a jungle restaurant, thrilled over grandchildren, lost friends, made friends, got hired, got fired, got hired again…
One painting and my life exploded through my mind. How extraordinary. How wonderful. We are the most fortunate of species.