064 Splashes of color

064 Splashes of color

Painting holds a lot of trauma for me. I didn’t know I’d shied away from it. Not until my husband printed me a bird house and it took me months to pick up the paint brush.

Some of it was anxiety because I didn’t think I could make it pretty. But once I started, I realized this was about a lot more.

Darn it, this was supposed to just be about splashes of color. Now, it’s about mental health.

I’d taken away a lot of the anxiety by trying every step on this sacrificial ghost figure first. I was also getting a tiny bit better with the brushes.

When I painted, many many years ago, it was on large canvases, not fiddly prints. But it wasn’t until I mixed the first colors that I felt this was more than just painting.

Unsurprisingly, I was a weird teenager. An autistic, tiny person trying to fit in where she couldn’t. Reading, computers, and painting kept me sane, though not social.

Unfortunately, I was also pretty impressionable. Someone took advantage, offered me a job in a gallery. Of course, I took it.

The last painting I painted was at that gallery. Ever since, I haven’t been able to pick up a paint brush. An adult man took advantage of a girl. That girl is now a woman with a lot of trauma. It took me more than a decade to pick up a paint brush again.

I didn’t know I’d been avoiding it. I’d made up all kinds of excuses not to paint again. I am glad I did this. I hope I can continue to paint. With every stroke of color, I feel a bit better.

I’d let someone take away something I loved. I don’t think I’ll ever paint another canvas. But, adjusted to a different medium, painting serves as therapy now. Or so I hope.

Some days, I want to press a button to reset humanity to its beginnings. But there is a part of me that loves humans. The world is a shitty place, especially to those who are different. But the world is also a wondrous place.

I can even see the marvel in a snow storm. Aren’t the trees impressive to keep standing strong and tall?

Finding marvel in nature is easy once you start to look closely. Have you ever watched a bird long enough to appreciate every shade of their feathers? It can be much harder to feel the same about humans.

Winter is a time of thinking, reflecting, and questioning for me. This winter has been tougher than most.

But no matter how down I am, I always manage to appreciate life and the wonders of nature. I am also coming to terms with the fact that I am rooting for humanity, no matter how stupid we are.

Okay, while the paint dries, let me finish my thought while I make some goulash from scratch.

Most of my appreciation for nature and humanity comes from returning to a more nature-connected way of living. Keeping cultures for sourdough baking, growing food, cooking from scratch. Relearning how things were done.

I am learning so much. The other day, when I realized I was out of broth, I didn’t drive to the store. Instead, I learned how to make some.

It isn’t the induction stove I’m cooking on, the artificial light I can rely on, or the refrigerator that impress me.

The technology humans have come up with is so darn cool but it isn’t what makes me root for humans. It’s when we work together that I feel we can do this. All of this.

I recently read an article that pointed out that it’s unfair to humanity to judge us as we do. We take humans as one collective force. We misrepresent the views of a few violent and violating groups as “us.”

Most of use would never be able to even fathom the things a small portion of humanity has done to all of us. It would be unfair to lump us all together. The worst that can be said of most of us is that we don’t see the issues.

We humans are marvelous creatures. If we get out from under those who look to profit, we can do marvelous things.

In the meantime, we need to make sure the knowledge does not get lost. How many people still know how to make cheese without lab cultures, bread without lab yeast? How many people still know how to save seeds, how to grow food from scratch? How to compost? I still don’t know how to make a fire from scratch. I still don’t know how to butcher an animal.

Honestly, I still don’t appreciate a lot of things that deserve a lot of appreciation. Heck, I didn’t even appreciate my dull knives until they were gone.

I still complain about the weather instead of feeling awed by the wonder of weather patterns. I mean, seriously, have you ever looked at how this all works? It is fascinating!

I guess, I will be finished with the bird house by the time I’m done talking. Ah, well. Where was I?

Every time I understand something, really learn something new, I get giddy.

I marvel when someone manages to figure out the best solution to a video game, or when someone has the perseverance to go for some world record in whatever. Other people see lazy gamers. I see people with a lot of failure resistance, dedication, and skill.

I am amazed when I see a rock climber or “ninja warrior” beat some obstacle. I probably look like a goggling stalker when I look closely at how exactly the muscles in the back move.

Others see someone wasting their life to focus on the arbitrary goal of beating obstacles. I see someone curious to find their limits, to see what the wonderful human body is capable of.

Others might see art as a waste of time. I wonder if they’ve ever been truly touched by a poem or painting. I’ve cried over music. I’ve laughed while reading (and cried a lot more). I’ve been awed by paintings.

There is so much wonder in this world. Most of it isn’t about some technology or even some skill. For the most part, it’s about not giving up. That might sound cheesy but it’s true.

You need a lot of dedication to become good at something. For the most part, it’s about motivation more than skill.

Someone with the perfect body won’t be strong enough to beat an obstacle if they don’t care to apply themselves. But a determined teenager with an ax to grind can do a lot.

So, why am I rooting for humanity? Imagine if we stopped hating each other, truly worked together. Imagine we’d let people explore what they care about without judgment.

What would all those smart, determined, and strong people be able to do together if this wasn’t a competition?

I believe we’ve lost some of the essential parts of our humanity: community. But to say it is lost isn’t fair. Just because a few are profiting when we divide doesn’t mean it’s not there.

I am rooting for humanity to get their collective shit together–pardon my language–for the same reason I love living despite all my issues: life is too beautiful and too wondrous not to live it.

I guess we started a lot darker than I wanted and now it’s all cheesy in the end. I hope you get my point.

So long, and thanks for being here–seriously, you people have kept me going this winter. Thank you!