Friday, August 28, 2009

Friendship. Of All Things.

Breath is difficult. Not because I am thousands of feet above the level of the sea. Not because I am getting older. It is because my brain finds it difficult to spare the energy needed to tell my lungs to fill with air. I can feel the computer of my mind going into overdrive as it struggles to process the eternity of beauty before me. Stone upon stone, the wonder builds up into mountains. Mountain upon mountain, the grandeur forms canyons. Above it all, the blue sky unites the shouts of color below, bringing them together into a hymn of joy at wonder of life. Finally my brain can take it no longer and I stare dumbstruck, mouth gaping, drained of thought – a wanderer who can no longer find his way. Above me I hear a raven caw. Perhaps it cackles in anticipation of a meal. Ravens have seen this phenomenon before – a silly creature standing in the full sun as its skin roasts and the air sucks away every bit of moisture – nature’s jerky machine, predating Ron Popeil by several eons. But the ravens and I are not alone.

Before me on the ground Adam paints. Adam Weinstein. Musician. Painter. Schizophrenic. Alcoholic. Drug addict. Many terms have been used to describe Adam just as they have been used to describe me. Today both of us can add a new label – the label of friend.

Adam paints on a board in the dirt. His canvas is taped to the board, his tubes of paint are strewn all around him. He uses the plastic bottom from a recyclable grocery bag for a palette. Colors fly onto the canvas. He groans with frustration as the mountain air and sun dry the acrylic almost before it leaves his brush. He ends up painting with both fingers and brush. The painting reaches a point that many would call beauty.

“There. I probably should leave it. It is good as it is.”

Adam pushes beyond into a place that he finds upsetting.


He waters down a brush and swathes the entire canvas. Brown and beige shades from the water fill the sky, mountain and canyon.

“So you’re going to use the canvas for another painting?”

“No. I have to fix it.”

I watch patiently. Filming him as he works.

Out of the chaos a new form takes shape. More color. More contrast. More passion - until a new image lifts Adam’s heart and mine as I watch his act of beauty and creation. From somewhere beyond us and yet right here within each of us creativity, nature – you chose a name – find a path of rebirth – a reshaping of something in our own image to find harmony.

Can I remake my life as Adam remakes the painting? Perhaps all of us labeled as mentally ill, handicapped, or simply misfit – perhaps all of us period – must occasionally find a way to restore our beauty. Thankfully, this day I need not do it alone. I travel to do a favor for a friend whose body is dead but whose memory lives on within me and in the hearts of his other friends. I travel with a new friend. Today I will call and talk to other friends. And even more. Raven, stone, canyon and sky – these also give me the strength of friendship – they may dry and tear my flesh but I do not fear this. I do not seek it, but I do not fear it. To fear death is to deny that I, the raven, and my friends are united by bonds that extend from the stars to the quantum particles that unite us all. Who am I to deny this unity? Others may call it by other names but I today I will call it the friendship of all things. Today I have enough hope from this friendship to fix my painting a little - to capture just a bit more of the wonder that surrounds me. Thank you my friends. Thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment