Certainly most of us have heard the beloved Maya Angelou recite her poem Still I Rise. Personally I listen to it often. She speaks to something inside of me. It is the part of me that doesn't want to buckle under life's unforeseen sideswipes...it is the part of me that strives to be the best person I can and to applaud others doing the same. Just sometimes we need a mentor, a success story, a goddess wrapped in a chocolate brown blanket of wisdom glimmering radiance out of honest eyes to remind us of who we truly are. I find this in Ms Angelou.
Today I finished a painting that I have been working on for the past few years. It started in the shed studio of my New Mexico home I lovingly refer to as Rosa. My friend Olin stretched this 7'x3' canvas for me and like me it has undergone several transitional ideas about what would finally live on it's surface. If you were to peel away the layers of paint on it you would see this. During this time I was in the first days of an injury that stopped me in motion and escorted me directly into the holy of holies begging and pleading for my life back. I was a restaurant owner and muralist in the thriving and quirky destination town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. My life came to a sudden halt. It has been almost three years since that lightning strike and I am still walking the healing path in Colorado. This painting as well as my memoir Oft Made to Wonder are my declarations of flight. I've learned when you can no longer do, you can still do some things.
I call this painting Still I Rise.
If you know me a little you might notice that I like ravens. If you know me well you will know why. In the case of this painting it is about reaching inside one's self so far that you are reaching to the place of Divinity. We go there when our earth shakes, splits open and swallows. We go there when the one we love most in this world leaves suddenly. We go there when we are struck by a disease there is no cure for and we go there when the sucker punch of all sucker punches hits us with such a velocity that we are forced to bust out of these skins with pleas to reach that miracle of grace.
In the dry desert of catastrophe we are left with one choice...to reach for the rising sun of hope. If you have been where I have then you know this choice eventually inspires us to live again...and this is what my painting is about.
This painting is for you Sazi Mari, it is for me...it is for you Dennis Apple, you Charlene Tops, for you Kat Wright, for you Tyler, you Wendy, for you Missy Apple Knotts, for you Carly Kubat and all those who have looked an impossible situation in the face and said, "still I rise".
Oh, and thanks Maya. I didn't know you in this life but I sure do love you.