One of my Facebook friends posted this morning that they won’t be Facebooking for the remainder of the summer because the days are too short and there’s too much to do. I admire her self discipline and her ability to protect her time for what is most important to her. Things like social networking or playing games on the computer or a smart phone are generally thought to be time-wasters, but, once in awhile, they have the ability to create something incredible.
I love Netflix. I don’t live close to a movie place and late fees were a huge problem. Netflix’s promise of no late fees was all I needed to be hooked. Once I signed up, I realized the choices available, one of which was the movie, Frida, starring Selma Heyek. Not a documentary, but a gateway into this artist about whom I had no knowledge and some curiosity. I fell in love. I made her paintings my profile pictures and, because they were so disturbing, my friends asked what the heck they were. Because of this, my aunt and uncle bought a Frida calendar for me for Christmas. I thought of them every time I walked past my calendar and how my choice to make her my profile picture led to her presence on my wall. I would never have found a Frida calendar because I don’t think I could find one in Target or the grocery store and time limits my shopping trips to those two places for most of the year.
Frida’s paintings of her heart exposed, of her bloodied body giving birth, or herself as the hunted, or rooted to the eart, vomiting her life, all of these spoke to me and the sorrows I was feeling, am still feeling. I envied her the ability to paint and give a visual to her feelings. One of my favorites is when she painted her palette as her heart. Oh, sister! I can’t draw stick people.
But I like words, so I returned to writing. And I was happy.
Back to Facebook.
Earlier this summer, feeling pent up I vented to Facebook that I wish I could paint like Frida and expressed my contrition for not listening to my high school art teacher, who just wanted to give me the ability and the permission to express myself.
Two of my Facebook friends, both of whom are artists in different media, responded. So paint, they said. Just do it. Pick up a brush.
I was stunned. They had both seen my complete lack of artistic ability. What were they thinking.
I incubated it. I snuck a trip to Michael’s into my Target run. Canvases were pretty cheap. But who did I think I was?
I asked for art supplies for my birthday. It was hard to do because my family is full of humor and sarcasm is our favorite choice of humor and my inability to communicate in the visual arts is well known.
No one cracked a joke, but there were no art supplies, either. There was, however, birthday money, and I used it to buy supplies. And yesterday I painted.
I cannot believe how hard it was. I couldn’t tell my husband I was going to do it. I hid the canvas and the paints. I started to tell him, but just couldn’t get out the words. Who did I think I was? But the words of those friends were etched on my retinas. Just paint.
I had had a terrible night of not sleeping after a rough night with our oldest daughter. I’m so bad at this letting go thing. So, so bad. I muck it up left and right.
And as I was beating myself up over it and trying to find a way out of it or around it in the wee hours, I had an image. And that’s what I painted.
And it felt good.
As I painted I hummed that song, How do you mend a broken heart? And I made a new line: You create.
Thank you, Frida. Thank you, Facebook. Thank you to my sweet aunt and my departed uncle. Thank you, friends, for encouraging me.
Happy, happy synchronicity. It’s not just a Police album.