‘Brene” 24×36, oil on canvas. $510.00 Buy Now
I’m taking one because I woke up this morning with a heavy heart. On my best days, when my four-year-old son gets emotional, frazzled, or downright defiant, I tell him to take a break. To have a moment to himself where he is free to feel his feelings and then come back to the situation, calm and ready to talk.
I have some truly inspirational stories of bravery to share with you, but I’ve taken some time to think about it, and I’m not quite ready for them. Because my mind, and thus my painting this morning, were elsewhere.
Today’s painting was a meditation. Was my time out. And having taken it, I am ready to come back, ready to talk. I didn’t plan the painting. I didn’t fight with it. I tried to enjoy each stroke on the canvas and remember that I was literally covering ground, making marks where there once were none– a powerful expression of purpose and ability.
As I painted, I thought about the conversation I had with my son this morning as I walked him to school, an echo of yesterday’s conversation in the car when we passed men holding large David Duke signs on the side of the highway, and he asked me why I was so upset: Sometimes, people are not so nice to people who are different than they. Everyone, I told him, is important– particularly people who look different than you or think differently than you. You, my son, are a helper.
I struggle to talk with him specifically about race– afraid to destroy what must be his overwhelmingly optimistic view of the world–and yet still knowing that not talking about it, ignoring it, is white privilege at its best. He doesn’t have to know right now. Many children do not have that luxury.
I have a lot of fears and concerns. I am, quite frankly, sad. I know that had things gone differently in this election, there are many people, including some of my dearest friends and family, who would be feeling the same pain and fear I feel now. For different reasons, but perhaps on the level of just our guts, it would feel the same.
This whole November project was founded on the words of Brene Brown, which I paraphrased and now quote: “Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Just stand your sacred ground.” I asked people to share stories of a time or times when they did just that, and although I did not ask for women specifically, it has been exclusively strong, brave women (so far) who have written to me and not only shared their instances of bravery but helped redefine what bravery itself might mean.
I don’t write political posts. I believe people of good will can and do disagree. My blog is mostly about art, sometimes about business and parenting. I avoid controversy. But today, I don’t want to shrink. I also don’t want to puff up which usually involves belittling and begrudging. I’m hoping for some kind of sacred ground. That, I think, is what my painting is about. Or hopes to be about.
Brene Brown posted the following on facebook today. And for today, this little time out I’m taking, I’m using her words as my inspiration. Tomorrow I will be back to yours. And, yes, I still need more to be able to finish out the month. Please consider it.
Today is about finding connection with the people who share our joy, relief, and optimism, OR our grief, rage, and heartbreak. In the midst of such division, we desperately need to know we’re not alone and that we will continue to fight together for what we believe in.
However, if this democracy is going to work, tomorrow or the next day must be about finding the strength and courage to turn toward the friends, family, and strangers who do not share our beliefs and emotions about this election outcome.
Finding connection with people that we perceive as “the other” is our collective mandate. Maybe the conversation will be about something other than politics – something small that we share in common. I don’t think it will be easy, but I believe it is the only way forward.
Martin Buber wrote, “When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.”
We are often susceptible to the worst stereotypes and myths about groups, but people are hard to hate close up. My hope is that we can turn toward each other and find even the smallest bit of grace surging between us.