I believe that we are the captains of our ships. As always, I speak of this time and place, and of our not extraordinary lives within this culture. But the plotting we do is only one of the factors that add up to a lifetime. The forks in the road that require decisions are usually up to us. But the splendid surprises, the unexpected obstacles or possible shocks that await, we don’t get to predict with any accuracy.
What I mean to say is that a great deal of the path through our days is not under our control. Accidents, illness, the natural disasters that await with treachery, they are all potentially ahead. This morning I read of a woman hospitalized with “serious injuries” who was caught on the road by an sudden hail storm. That’s horrible bad luck. I’m not much of a driver, but I imagine there’s little you can do when your car spins out of control before you are even aware of the storm.
So I am almost always aware of not only how good I have had it, in spite of making a number of totally impractical decisions, but of what a miracle of good fortune my history has been. My mother died of cancer at forty-seven, her mother of the same illness at thirty-three. I expected the same fate and wonder how it was that I got to have so much life. I have four children, all in good health and well able to deal with what their lives deliver. When they were small and bloodied themselves with falls followed by emergency room stitches, I sometimes thought survival was a lot to hope for.
Not very long ago I would have found it difficult to believe that I would be where I am now. My house is warm and comfortable. My studio, still getting organized, is the best I have ever known. Soon I will be able to get back to work. The only thing I would like to have now and cannot is the energy I had in my forties. Alas.
About the image above: The studio is divided into work area and this storage room that is just beginning to be put in order. The tubes are used for shipping rolled canvases, the table for assembling frames and for packaging. That fifty inch wide roll of etching paper on the floor is a purchase I made years ago. It is a thick, velvety etching paper that makes a glorious surface for acrylic paint and is weighty enough to support collage elements. I was told when I protested the price that if I ran out of money this paper was good enough to eat. There have been some tough times but not of paper-eating magnitude.
From writer Francois de La Rochefoucauld: The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us.