Thursday, July 22, 2010

at sea

several years ago i fell in love with a painting.

(which is something i hardly ever do.)

it's a riot of blue in a spray of hues and textures. the color explodes off the canvas like a serene bay befrenzied by a hurricane. the eye is frantically led across the scene, top to bottom, corner to corner, but never finds a safe place to land. the patterns we all instinctively seek to help us make sense of our world are nowhere to be found. the chaos is as profound as the very human need to either organize it or escape it.

to that end, in the midst of the bedlam, my eye sees the suggestion of a sail. there's no encouragement that the ship it might be attached to will find its way to safety... just an inkling that such a thing might be possible.

the painting was created by a friend who was going through a difficult time, and to me it exudes the powerful emotions she might have been feeling. i was mesmerized the first time i saw it, so much so that i offered to buy it. (purchasing art -- something else i hardly ever do.) i think eventually i might've offered two or three times, but she wasn't ready to part with it.

flash forward several years to a couple weeks ago, when this note came from my friend...

"So, I have been thinking for the last week and a half that I need to ship the blue painting to you. It's been really strange -- a really strong feeling that I should give it to you. So, dammit, I am. :-)"

i will tell you i stared at those words for a long time, trying to paste together a narrative, a logical explanation for why they came when they did. sitting here tonight, i still can't do it. because the timing coincided with the waning days of another friend who was transitioning through the last stages of leukemia.

she died the day before the message arrived.

i have no idea what metaphysical forces swirl around us. i can't say, "i was feeling pain for a friend, and another friend on the other side of the country came along at exactly the right time to pick me up in a way that defies rational thought."

i don't know what any of this says about anything. but knowing how much i don't know...i'm willing to go with the flow.

and to be grateful for friends, across time, and in the face of the unknowable.

* * * * *

the painting arrived at our house yesterday. it's as beautiful and moving as i remembered it. thank you, maggie.

* * * * *

for kary and frederica

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