I am a blank canvas; I am a black canvas
October 2, 2016, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was watching some viral video this weekend and I didn’t click out of it fast enough and another video started playing. Usually I click the ‘x’ and go about my business, but something made my finger hover my phone screen, but not commit. This man had a canvas in front of him and he was painting it black. I’m sure, somewhere, The Rolling Stones were playing. As I watched him turn his canvas into a void, I wondered if maybe this was the kind of art where you put a thin layer of black paint over an existing piece of art and then as you scratch at the black, bits of the hidden art start to emerge. I had seen a video of that a few weeks before. Works of art, of beauty, hidden under the darkness and if you scratch hard enough, you can see a peak of what was originally there.

This was not that kind of painting. Instead of scratching away, the man started making light, invisible strokes against the darkness. Slowly, even for a time lapsed film, a shape began to emerge. A squirrel sat flatly against the canvas. Seconds later, the fur, his eyes, his shadow, they all seemed to somehow leap off of the page. It was almost as if the blackness beneath him added to the beauty and detail of the painting; surely more than a plain white canvas would have done. The artist finished the painting with the addition of another squirrel, this one seemingly dead in front of the original creature. Both animals so lifelike that it seemed you could almost reach out and feel one of their bristly tails. A trick of the eye and a great performance of talent, for sure. img_4022

It made me think about darkness, depression, emotional pain. Perhaps there are two types of people and how they handle their issues. One type choose to let the black wash over their life, their self worth, their goals. It hides everything good they had, anything beautiful they had gained in their lives. If they are complacent about it, they might as well call it all gone. Darkness would be all they would see. Some might scratch away at the black, trying to get glimpses of what they used to be; the whole picture would certainly still remain covered but a bit of memory would be enough to make them wish they could live their life all over again and perhaps dodge the moment they let the darkness, the depression, the black, cloak their life. Defeat and acceptance would go hand in hand and soon they would just become their emotional turmoil; just a black canvas hanging on the wall with a few scratches shooting bold and bright colors out from underneath.

Some people, the brave people, the people who refuse to go quietly into that night, will embrace the blackness. They will mourn the loss of the life they had before things were so very difficult, of course. How could they not? Life was so simple back then, when everything was a blank  white canvas for them to create their hopes and dreams upon. But, on top of that black that eventually consumed them, they will create a new sort of life. One with dimension, painful beauty, extraordinary detail. It will be a different life, but perhaps that’s what they needed all along. It takes a strong person to take something so dark as emotional pain and use it to create a deeper and more meaningful life than they knew before. It comes with a deeper sensitivity to things, a greater appreciation for true love, a more detailed understanding of themselves.

Painting on a white canvas is fine, and safe, and what most people do. But some of us have the audacity to paint on a black one, because we refuse to be defined by that darkness. We are brave enough to wield our illness like a weapon, a paint brush, and in this way, we can never be defeated by it.


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