Disconcerting and surreal – these are the words that keep coming to mind to describe the atmosphere in the United States today. Sleep isn’t coming as easily for so many, and for those of us who were already insomniacs, the waking hours can seem longer and contorted.
It is in these times that I try to focus on what I love. Just taking a moment to catalog things for which I am grateful can be tremendously helpful. I’m not going to burst into a chorus of “My Favorite Things” but it’s a similar idea. Always at the top of the list: my home and everyone in it (“everyone” includes our two cats who are “senior partners” in our small company of awesome), the good health of my loved ones and myself, humor, getting to be an artist, etc. And, I have found, reading about the cosmos helps me to adjust my thinking to “this is temporary” and gives me a great feeling of calm. And, of course, my work. These things help to clear my head and better allow me to look past the chaos and confusion and really think about what actions I can take right now. I ask myself how I can help to make things better – anything from trying to raise some money for a worthy cause, to calling elected representatives to voice opposition to injustice, to performing a random act of kindness.
I have found that there is more solace and peace to be derived from taking a few proactive measures than in connecting to a constant stream of panic-inducing media. Panic does no good – it feeds confusion and it incapacitates. The calm mind can be far more productive and useful – and it feels an awful lot better. I’m not saying this is easy, especially in the current political climate, but it becomes easier with practice.
What we focus on expands – in our daily lives and on a grander scale. Let us try to live in a balance of gratitude and vigilance.
When faced with an unpalatable situation, I look ahead to the end of it and think, “I can have wasted that time, or I can come out of the dark tunnel with some accomplishments.” Just picture the end game – it might help.
Those of you who are friends on social media may have seen my recent daily drawing posts. As I paint and work on other projects, these ink drawings allow me to have an outlet and stay connected daily. The drawings allow me to communicate my views without adding to the panic. I am going to resist, I am going to keep doing what I can from where I am, I am going to keep fighting – hopefully, with focus and thoughtfulness. Creating these drawings lifts my spirits and I hope they do the same for you.
I am sharing here the first four drawings in The Pugilist Series and a new image for the ongoing The Skeleton Project. Last week’s America the Beautiful drawing is in production and I have already completed a self-portrait which I will be sharing shortly. New drawings and paintings are underway. There is comfort in the work. I hope you can find what comforts you.
Be grateful, be vigilant, and know you are not alone.