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Life Priorities

December 17th, 2015

On March 30, 2015 my wife had surgery to repair 3 cervical vertebrae. She will be in recovery for the next 6 months. When Sally was going in for surgery, nothing else seemed to matter. For my sweetheart to be having a serious surgery puts everything into perspective. I realized that I need to prioritize what I feel is most important to me, because we have no guarantee of the next second.

Artists tend to be solitary creatures. We get better by practicing in our respective studios. We spend countless hours staring at easels and drawing desks, while holding paintbrushes with cramped hands. Very often we ignore the world around us. I have always blamed this on being an introvert. This is a reason, but it should never have been an excuse.

My bride is the one who convinced me to start painting in 2013. She has always been my first critic. If she doesn’t like a painting or a drawing, I don’t show it to anyone else. It has always seemed that she has more confidence in my ability than I do, however. Where I see features that are out of proportion and colors that look stupid, she tells me that I am being too hard on myself. With every canvas I almost chunk in the garbage, she has always encouraged me to finish. She tells me that it looks fine and that no one else can see the mistakes which I can see.

The lesson that I have learned through all of this is that adversity will waltz into my life. Even though it is my wife who went through the surgery, I made an oath before God that she would be “flesh of my flesh” according to my wedding vows. I may not have any staples protruding from my neck and I don’t need a cane to walk, but emotionally I ache for the mother of my children. As a husband, I am sorry that it took suffering to help me edit the pages of my life. To arrange the most important tasks first, like serving my wife.

The part of me that is selfish wants to be the next Thomas Kinkaide. I want to wake up everyday and paint instead of sweating on a bread truck 5 days a week. Most days this emotion consumes me. For this I am sorry. Sally having surgery has helped me to put everything into perspective.

I am still focused upon eventually painting full time. To be an artist and not be able to create everyday can make me miserable at times. This should never be at the expense of my family, however. My images of grandeur are immaterial in this context. One day I will be grasping a paintbrush with arthritic fingers. Wrinkles fold where there was once smooth skin and my gait will be unsteady. At this moment in my life, with eyes which can’t see my canvas clearly, may I have my bride staring at the colors with me. This would have made me a successful artist.