“Remember, Olsen, its the rhythm of life that matters, not the appearance.” – from the journals of painter John Olsen
When you have a major set back with your physical self, you take inventory. Inventory of time left on this planet. Inventory of what you want to do with that time. Inventory of your physical self – both the possibilities and limitations of the gear that helps you get around, the fluidity of your joints, the strength of your bones. You appreciate more how incredibly random setbacks are to the self : this cyst growing without my knowledge, or, as I learned about last night over a beautiful picnic dinner in an apple orchard, a door slammed on a writer-friend’s finger that cut through tendons making typing a challenge, in addition to simply taking up valuable time. An index finger might not seem all that much, until its function and future are challenged.
Thanks to an online class that I contribute to once a year, I discovered this article about an 80-year old painter in Australia, John Olsen. He is alive with painting and possibility.
Of his age, he says: “You could say I’m in the departure lounge, but that doesn’t stop me being creative. I don’t think you should be possessed by your age. Just take each day as a day of possibility.”
Sometimes I get depressed by how much I want to do and how little time I have in which to do it. This is, of course, self defeating. As is beating myself up for such being self-defeating! I don’t believe in telling yourself not to think that way any more, but in trying to be gentle with that tendency.
Easier for me is to rejoice – very quietly sometimes – in small creations. Appreciate that each day I make something. A list counts. As does a beautiful plate of eggs. A good paragraph. An interview. An idea hatched. A child or a partner loved. Each a possibility.