I did this painting some years ago when I was sick. I really wanted to be out there on that beach, out of my body and away from the life that I was living at that moment because it was filled with loneliness and illness. Not aloneness, but loneliness, there’s a difference. I was married and had two beautiful young children, so I wasn’t alone. Yet as my health failed and weeks became months and those months dragged into years of living in a body that had become a kind of prison, I felt isolated. I was like one of those mimes in an invisible box, I could see the life that I wanted to be part of happening all around me, but I couldn’t quite get to it, it was just out of my reach.
That is what chronic illness is, what it does to those living with it. If you’re lucky and have a supportive family and good doctors some of that burden is lifted, but even still, it is a journey that wears on the body and on the soul. Nietzsche once wrote, What does not kill me makes me stronger. I would sometimes think about those words back then, and the truth is, I sure didn’t feel like I was getting stronger. I think that what life’s trials really teach us is that we can survive. We can do what we never thought we had the strength or the courage to do. Are we stronger? Maybe, maybe not. But as we step out of that box, battered and scarred from the crossing, we take with us the wisdom that no matter how dark the day the wings of hope can take us anywhere we want to go:)
For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.
~ Christina Rossetti