Thursday, July 10, 2014

Replaying Empty Tubes...

This Throwback Thursday post is a little different. It's a post from a couple of years ago, before my mother-in-law passed on. Her birthday is coming up on Saturday, and I can't help but think of her and all of the things I learned from her over the years. She certainly was an example of pouring herself out for others. And we sure miss her.  I thought I would share this reflection again...

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Too many thoughts rushing through my head... Art, Life, Love, Family, Fears, Suffering, Death... The whole journey, I guess. Memories... sweet memories. And dreams.

My mother-in-law's health has taken a sudden and drastic downward turn. As happens in families, that is currently demanding all of our focus and concern. Life goes on. We have all these little people depending on us to keep a routine in tact, and to keep as happy and sunshiny an environment as possible for them throughout challenging times. And through all the tears, and all the giggles, I am trying to keep working... keep moving forward in the midst of longing to hold onto precious chapters of the past.

As I was painting the other day, I was rolling and squeezing a tube of acrylic paint... trying to get every last spot out of the tube. I finally decided it was empty, and went to throw it away. But as I looked at it, lying there in the bin, I had this "moment".

I was thankful. Thinking back over the years, there have been many times when my paint supply dried up before I ever had a chance to use it. But lately... I need to restock my paints, pastes, and gels every week.

I reached into the bin, and pulled that empty tube back out. I caressed it and smiled. Then I pulled out the other empty tubes. I thought of the amazing difference between empty and wasted. The difference between spilled, and poured out. I thought of all the abstracts, dolls, mixed media pieces, and childrens' art that had been made from those tubes. I thought of the laughter we shared while making art together as a family. I thought of the pride on my children's faces. I thought of the kind words customers have shared with me about how a piece touched and moved them.

I thought of how despite all the art I create, it was this empty paint tube that most reflected what I want my life to be. I don't want to die full and dried out. I want to squeeze every last bit out creating beautiful things, bringing people together, and touching the lives of others. I want to start with a blank canvas everyday and make something of it. Like an abstract, I want even the negative strokes of my life to become one more layer that adds to the overall beauty... remembered, but moved on from. I don't want my life to unintentionally spill out, wasting precious moments. I want to pour out whatever I have to offer to contribute... to gift others, especially my family, with good things.

When my children see me as my spirit leaves an empty withered body someday, I want them to smile, and think "She did it! She used it all."

And then I hope, they can look back at our life together, and not see the empty tube, but the beautiful paintings left behind.

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