“This is no place for wimps” declared my Father as he coped with the final stages of Parkinson’s Disease. It was a mantra that would be repeated often between us, a go-to phrase that seemed to take the edge off. It was an attitude that had enabled him to adjust to a new normal as the physical casualties mounted. Up until the day he died, he managed to focus on the things that he could do rather than the things that he could not.
Just last summer I was celebrating a major life accomplishment. My photography/video production business had finally become self sustaining and I was ecstatic to be doing what I loved. The long daylight hours meant more time to squeeze in more images and I loved every minute of it but I also began to notice that my energy level was dropping and I began to feel body pains that I hadn’t felt before. By Fall, around the time of my last blog post the pain and stiffness in my muscles was so severe that I could barely walk much less lift a camera to eye level. Soon thereafter I was diagnosed with a debilitating auto immune disease known as Polymyalgia Rheumatica.
I’m not going to be the old me again anytime soon. Best case scenario is that the disease will go into remission within a year or two. In the meantime I’ve being forced to recon with a new normal that I didn’t anticipate. This is no place for wimps! Healthy daily doses of a corticosteroid are now keeping me mobile but not without continued physical challenges associated with systemic inflammation and side effects from the drugs. I’ll spare you greater details of my struggles and get straight to the point of this post.
Just like my Dad did, I’m being forced to focus on the things that I can do. At first the creative void seemed bottomless and I moped about drinking cocktails of self pity mixed with overdoses of political television, a deadly combination. After about a month of that nonsense I forced myself to pick up a paint brush and I haven’t set it aside since. I’ve learned that healing is a powerful byproduct of the act of creating art. My depression has been replaced with a calm knowing that my journey as an artist is continuing just as it was meant to. While painting I’ve learned that I can reach a meditative state that pushes physical and emotional pain to the background.
I’m very excited to begin sharing my new artwork on a regular basis and it is my hope that someone out there might be inspired by me to embrace the healing aspects of creating art just as I have. As always, I welcome your comments and I hope that you might share your own stories about how art has helped you heal.