Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Silent Windows on the Inner Voice

Look, we are all mortal, human, finite beings. None of us get to live forever. None of us have the vision to know when our end will come. Not even those, like me, who are fighting cancer. Sure, doctors and such can dish out percentages, time lengths, etc., yet we all know - or can find - people who beat the odds and 'make-it' to a different end than was originally predicted.

Just as none of us can be assured of the final days, none of us knows what will keep us going along the way. For most of us dealing with cancer, it begins with 'treatement'. This general word encompasses many different elements designed to get us disease free and to return us to 'normal-lives' - family, work, bills, homes, friends etc. In tandem with medical treatment we have all also read or heard of a plethora of other 'cures', 'assistive diets', 'homeopathic therapies', 'alternative therapies' etc. While some are interesting and seem like they couldn't hurt, others are purely 'wacko' even to the simplest of observers. So, in  my case, why ART?

Good question.

I guess I should lay out where my 'faith' in recovery lies before I delve into how I 'think' art plays into my own therapeutic approach to getting healthy. First, I trust in modern medicine. I trust that we live in a time when the odds of proper diagnosis, treatment and therapy protocols mesh properly to attack what is wrong inside my body are generally in my favor, and that, again, for the most part people in this country don't get to put 'Dr.' in front of their name unless they know what they are doing.

Second, this last couple of years has taught me more than anything else that my network of friends and family give me hope, give me support and give me the DESIRE to do what ever is necessary, to ENDURE what must come, to RISE UP above what is expected so that I can be around to see my kids grow up, graduate, fall in love, get married, have a passel of grandkids, etc., etc. you get the picture.

Finally, faith in God. This may trouble some people that I did not put this at the top of my list. But, being honest with myself, I must admit, I have never been one to believe whole-heartedly in the 'presence' of God in my life. I have not been one to spend a whole lot of time in 'prayer', I have just never seen the point, or seen the results... maybe it is the shallowness of my faith that has led to this. I DO recognize the importance that others put in higher powers and fully respect and appreciate all those prayers that have been sent my way, and want to believe that somehow in the great cosmic scheme of things, that it does make a difference somewhere along the line. It is just very hard for me to see.

So, that brings me to Art. As I have mentioned in other posts, my work in art began when I was young, flourished for a while in high school, before being pushed aside as 'crazy' as I pursued more 'valuable' studies in college. Following college, I fell into the 'normal' patterns expected in our society; work, marriage, family, etc. -- yet all along the way Art was like a distant ship on the horizon, one that would drift closer and then drift away, always out of reach, always tempting me to 'jump' ship and leave the regular world behind. Then the irony of my current situation comes to the forefront.

Being sick with a life-threatening disease has put me into this marginalized, limbo-like, existence, where I am like some kind of wraith... I exist in the 'regular world', yet I drift in and out of 'treatment world' and in between there is, for lack of a better term, 'worry world'. This worry world is where I live most of my days, and why I try to fill it with something I enjoy, ART.

Thanks to the way our employment system works, 'worry world' is that place where the sick live while waiting to either improve and return to 'regular world', or to worsen and die and move on to 'the after life' what ever the hell that is. So, since we can't work in 'worry world', is it any wonder that so many patients living this existence have a tendency to wigg-out and do all kinds of seemingly crazy, outlandish, selfish and strange things? It does not surprise me at all any more how many families fall apart during 'treatment time' how many people -- looking at their situation, simply give up and say, 'screw it' and, thinking they are doing everyone a favor by ending things.

Now, if I were to sit here and say that none of these thoughts had not passed through my mind, I would be lying, plain and simple, they have - and yes, up to and including the big 'S'. Then something happens (maybe this is the divine providence I refuse to acknowledge) I get a phone call or a visit, or a Facebook message or a text that reminds me why I am here and why I need to FOCUS on doing what ever I can to stay here as long as possible....

Back to the ART.

I am no Picasso, no Pollock, no Dali, or O'keeffe.  I am just Scott Lightfoot - a guy with a bit of talent with a pencil, some sharpies, a camera and a budding interest in painting and other media. I have not been 'discovered', 'gallerized', 'published' or made a fortune selling my work.. But I can tell you this. Making art - however it is received, makes me happy. It DOES keep me going. The simple knowledge that I have unfinished pieces in the studio and others swirling around in my head waiting to be birthed onto a canvas or a page, keeps me from withering up and dying.

I also now, thanks to the urging of friends and family have Georgia to take care of too. Georgia is my 'studio-cat' and as a kitten requires lots of contact to keep her happy. So, instead of wallowing in self-guilt and depression like many mornings - laying around wasting the day, I now must get up, get myself going and get out to the studio and greet the kitten every morning... Doing this allows me to, well forces me to, face the day, examine my progress and put a plan together for each day. So, as much as I didn't WANT the cat, she is part of my healing process too...

I'd like to say that I a good enough artist that paintings are flying off the walls and I replaced my past income with sales of my art, but that too would be an egotistical exaggeration. Now, I have sold SOME pieces in the past year, which has been wonderful. Many of them I have sold to people who are aware of my situation and I am glad that my artwork can grace their world and maybe make a wall in an office or home a little less bare and maybe a little more interesting.

So, why keep doing this art stuff anyway? Why? What do I get out of it? How does it help my family in this time of need? Well, I'll tell you this. If I am alive, I am learning. I am becoming a better artist. I am becoming a happier (though it might not be evident to those closest to me at times) person. My work IS becoming more well know and I AM contributing a bit to the overall economic picture of our home.

But, more than this, I see my growing collection of artwork as a legacy -- something, finally, to be able to leave behind to my kids to appreciate when my time comes (hopefully a long time from now!). Reading some biographies of the more famous artists, I discovered that Rembrandt completed something like 650 paintings in his career, Picasso somewhere over 20,000 pieces... I have a goal currently that is combining my treatment and outlook with my art, it is called the 'Up To 1825' challenge. I have challenged myself to do something 'artistic' each day and to document it along the way. Each day I plan on either making to completion one piece of art, or to make progress on a larger piece each day. So that after 5 years (the current 'survivability' estimate) for my condition I will have made one piece of art for each day - 1825 days. I am sure that each day's effort will not be a master piece - as I am sure that not all of Picasso's 20,000 pieces were either - I hpe that this goal will keep me going through what ever ordeals come in the future when I begin this latest round of treatments.


  1. Scott, I tried to find your house tonight... without my phone, knowing it was Robinwood (per Kristen's direction) looking, looking, for the sleeping porch. alas, no finding. We need to have a chat. If you are alive you are learning. That makes a difference. And also, I will have you know that as I was setting up my "blog" page today, I chose this exact background. then WHAMO I see you also chose it. This leads me to believe we were destined for the said 'chat'.

  2. Sounds like a great idea... sorry, I have a bad habit of not leaving my porch light on! I am at 2550 Robinwood.. between Delaware and Islington...We are 'supposed' to do that for safety... Most evenings I am finding my self out in the studio till, late. Just post me of FB or message me on my phone... I'd love to continue our chats!