When my beloved arrived home from his golfgame and saw the painting I was working on, he asked, “What kind of flowers are those?”
“I think they’re daisies,” I replied.
“Oh,” he said. “To me they look like dandelion puffs about to take flight.
It’s all in our perspective.
The painting above is painted on top of an old painting that used to hang in our living room. Originally, it was reds and darks and golds. A many-layered thing, a reflection of the word that formed my intention for that year (2014) encompassed in the words I’d affixed to it – “At Onement”.
On Monday, I sliced and peeled off the letters. Sanded down what remained and then painted over the original to create a background of yellows and greens.
Yesterday, I dove in.
The outcome is not at all what I had envisioned. Yet, in the end, it doesn’t matter. The outcome pleases me.
The title, however, surprises me. Promises. Promises. Promises.
Where did that come from?
And memory immediately opens me up to thoughts of the past.
I remember as a child not trusting my father’s promises. He’d say we were going to do something. Go somewhere. And his promises seldom came to be.
I know now, my father never meant to make promises and then break them. He was mostly only repeating behaviours he’d learned when he was a young boy and struggling to make sense of a chaotic world. When he was nine, his parents divorced and shipped him off from London, England to boarding school in the wilds of the Saskatchewan prairies. A long and lonely journey for a 9-year-old boy to take on his own.
I don’t know what messages my father took as his ‘truth’ when all of that transpired. I do know that the disappointments and broken promises of his young life carried through into his adulthood.
He had a temper he often expressed with angry words and he made promises he seldom kept.
I loved him anyway. Because, in spite of, or perhaps because of, his flaws, he was very, very human. And I knew, no matter what, he loved me. He just struggled to express Love through all the layers of pain and regret and anger that clouded his vision of the world.
Which is why the title of this painting makes sense.
As I worked on it, I had many moments where I thought… ‘this is going nowhere’… ‘Ugh. Quit now while you’re ahead.’ ‘What on earth were you thinking?’ ‘Give it up. You’re not an artist.’
Despite the critter chatter messing with my head, I kept going.
My father taught me that. Do not give up. “I promise you,” he’d say. “There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Never stop looking. Never stop believing. And even if you never find the pot of gold, look at all the beauty you’ll discover along the way.”
My father may have messed up on keeping his promises, but he never messed up on seeing beauty in this world. And he always believed in our humanity. No matter who you were. Your story. Faith. Colour. Title. He always accepted human beings as just that. Human beings. Beautiful. Magnificent. Flawed and Flawless.
He saw the magnificence of our humanity and he always promised a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I didn’t find a pot of gold as I painted yesterday. I did find joy. Peace. Contentment and the beauty of being immersed in the creative process.
And in that richness, a promise my father made me long ago came true.
“If you do what you love with all your heart, I promise you, you’ll be richer for the experience.”
He was right.