Surgery, Miracles, Paintings, Poems

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may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

ee cummings

My mother had 2 surgeries on her spine this week. One on Tuesday for 8 hours. Rest day. One on Thursday for 8 hours. A complex spine surgery to reconstruct her curve from scoliosis so bad she couldn’t walk anymore. They put in rods. She gained back 3 inches in height. She’s 73. She was under anesthesia for almost 16 hours total. I haven’t felt just how much, how badly I loved someone for a long time. I was teary and torn open for about 3 days. Very unusual anymore. Its good to know I’m in here.

On the same day my mom went in for surgery, my dear colleague and friend told me he had a brain tumor and was going in for surgery on Friday. Nothing can prepare us for these sorts of moments in life. I noticed I was taking really big breaths and sort of floating and staring….I walked around the house that day not really able to engage. Kept checking my phone for updates. Time passed. Modern medicine miracles: 2 days after spine surgery (complete with a frankenstein staple zipper scar ) my mom is up with a giant brace, walking down the hospital corridor with a body guard on either side. My friend got his skull cap opened up, a tumor removed, 2 days of sleep, and went home today.

Enjoy your healthy body everyone!  Here’s a blue piece, and the process in photos~

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Your Calling, your Reason to Live, your Mt Everest

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“9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don’t make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow-line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.
This metaphorical Mount Everest doesn’t have to manifest itself as “Art”. For some people, yes, it might be a novel or a painting. But Art is just one path up the mountain, one of many. With others the path may be something more prosaic. Making a million dollars, raising a family, owning the most Burger King franchises in the Tri-State area, building some crazy oversized model airplane, the list has no end.
Whatever. Let’s talk about you now. Your mountain. Your private Mount Everest. Yes, that one. Exactly.

Let’s say you never climb it. Do you have a problem witb that? Can you just say to yourself, “Never mind, I never really wanted it anyway” and take up stamp collecting instead?

Well, you could try. But I wouldn’t believe you. I think it’s not OK for you never to try to climb it. And I think you agree with me. Otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far.

So it looks like you’re going to have to climb the frickin’ mountain. Deal with it.

My advice? You don’t need my advice. You really don’t. The biggest piece of advice I could give anyone would be this:

“Admit that your own private Mount Everest exists. That is half the battle.”
And you’ve already done that. You really have. Otherwise, again, you wouldn’t have read this far.
Rock on.

Posted by hugh macleod at July 29, 2004″

When I read that from his blog called “Gaping Void,” images of art and writing and friends went flicking through my brain, I sort of felt like bawling, and I also got a a little hit of adrenaline. As usual, everything quickly simmered through my intellectual circuits and faded into a soft focus trance. When I looked up a couple minutes later, I just wanted to go make tea and start painting and not look at that Mountain idea for a while.

What is my Mt Everest? And why does it feel like a fantastic invitation and also full of pressure all at once?  Zounds. Anyway, I hope I’m already on that climb. I keep trying to orient in that direction. (I feel a pull to start using descriptive words like compass and navigation to describe things, so I’m going to stop here and go back to painting).

Here’s a piece that has some interesting earlier stages, but I kept going anyway:

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I turn 52 today. Its cloudy and gray and full of damp autumn in the air. I met my sweetest girlfriends for a gluten free pancake breakfast at an old Cafe that I worked at for 5 years while in graduate school~ a long time ago. Another year. Another leaf.