Friday, October 7, 2016

Get busy

This painting began with an offhanded conversation between my husband and the somewhat younger neighbor. The two of them had been standing in our driveway, talking cars or engines or something like that. Apparently the talk turned to age, because the next thing I knew, the two of them were strolling around the back of the house, the neighbor in the lead, joking about living in the geriatric wing of the street—declaring unapologetically that my dear hus was old.

I immediately reminded this neighbor that I am even older than my husband (which sadly did not quell his commentary whatsoever.) My husband explained that he had just remarked that in 14 years, he'd be 60 years old. The neighbor's wife and I took this in; it was one of those "aha" moments, and in the second or two that followed, you could almost hear everyone within earshot performing a quick calculation in their heads. I don't think anyone who stops for a moment to do that math is terribly pleased with the answer, especially if you're over 40. It's disturbing to realize just how close 60 really is. And if you're reading this and you're already over 60? Then you might be plugging in a higher number, and figuring that ever-shortening distance between current age and the unwanted goal...

Either way, it made me stop and ponder that I, too, am fast approaching 60—that is, if I am blessed with that many years on this earth.

Which in turn reminded me of the quote from a fabulous movie, The Shawshank Redemption (the Stephen King novella was even better), when a freshly paroled character—Red—comments that he'd better get busy living, or get busy dying. He's absolutely right. Every day, if we wake, we are given another day, another chance at bat, another breath to take in with gladness and purpose.

...Which is why this very picturesque morning found me loading my foldable easel into the trunk of the car, along with a slightly minimized collection of paints and brushes and a too-small canvas. It was the largest blank canvas I had. There wasn't time to go purchase larger—I needed to get busy living, see? Because I yearn to improve my plein air painting skills, and I can guarantee that I will never get better at it if I never do it. Inactivity and lack of effort, my friends, ensures stagnation.

So, I did it. I emulated my local art crush, Ron Donoughe (please Google him and join me in my adoration), and I packed my stuff and hauled it out to a scenic "rails-to-trails" path near our home (the Panhandle Trail—I highly recommend it—this view is a detail of the quarry wall). I gimped to a good spot (sore knee, doc appointment next week); then I fought at length with the easel's intricate setup mechanisms. And then, I did what I came to do.

It isn't my finest work, and it isn't quite finished. I took a photo before the lighting changed too dramatically, and I will try to refine it a bit at home tomorrow, perhaps. But today, I reveled in the morning, the developing sunshine and accompanying warmth, the passers-by, the cacophony of birds, the impossibly blue sky. I claimed it for my own in that pretty little spot with brush in hand.

Get busy living. Don't wait. Even if you're gimpy, or the canvas is too small, or you know the result might not be pretty. There will never be a better time than right now!

4 comments:

JennTeacher said...

Great picture

Mel said...

thank you! glad you stopped by.

Anita Hasch said...


Thank you for your wonderful thoughts. Yes we all need to get busy living. We need to be reminded of that sometimes, life goes by so quick.

Mel said...

thanks for visiting and commenting, Anita!