Saved by Art

Painting by Éric Le Pape

The world confuses me. In one moment, the ugliness of war and humankind’s degradation of the planet appall me and make me ashamed to be a member of the human race; the next, I am in love with the magic of life and the stunningly gorgeous experiences that surround me. Even in the midst of the offensiveness found on Facebook and Fox News and the horrors embraced by the Proud Boys and all the other hideous aspects of the deranged fringes of society, there is incredible beauty. This morning, among all the monstrous negativity on Facebook, I came across this painting by Éric Le Pape. The moment I saw it, I was completely taken by it. So much so, in fact, that I had to know more about the artist and his other work. I found the English language version of his website, where I spent quite some time reading about his paintings and watching and listening to a video in which he discussed his life and work and the influences on his paintings. As I thought about how his paintings made me feel, I reflected on several other pieces of art I had seen recently that affected me in much the same way. Another Facebook group page, entitled A Celebration of Female Artists, contains dozens (or hundreds, perhaps) of pieces of art that I find extremely appealing. I love a watercolor painting entitled Syrener (lilacs) by a Swedish artist who died in the mid-1940s, Hilma af Klint. The site has many more that capture my imagination.

Perhaps art can drown the sorrow that attempts to drown me. Or, at least, maybe art can temporarily stifle the ability of the ugliness of the world to bury me. Or it is possible that art can divert my attention away from circumstances that simply are  too painful to face without dissolving in tears or erupting in rage. Who know? I can only guess.

In the midst of Nature’s reminders that we may be overstaying our welcome, art and other human expressions keep reminding us of our ability to produce beauty. That may be it.


The planet seems to be rebelling against us. Dangerously high, sweltering temperatures throughout the western and southwestern U.S. Out-of-control fires in Hawaii, Canada, Spain, Greece, Portugal, and elsewhere. Extremes of tropical weather flooding parts of Baja California, Mexico, as well as the U.S. west coast (along with a modest earthquake yesterday, a reminder that Nature has multiple options available to her). More tropical storms and hurricanes brewing in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Melting glaciers. Rising sea levels. And that is just a small sample of Nature’s apparent revenge against abuse by Earth’s residents: renters, not owners, who have been ignoring the implicit provisions of the rental and use agreements that govern humanity’s unfettered access to the planet. Our landlord seems to have lost patience with her tenants’ abuse and misuse of her property. She threatened us with eviction if we did not comply with the terms of our mutual agreement. Apparently, she meant business; even if she has to burn us out or drown us, she is willing to re-take possession by any means necessary. Once we are gone, she can rebuild.


One of my nephews, who lives in Long Beach, California, reported by text last night at midnight that the weather delivered by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hilary “never got so bad that I even bothered to close the windows or the front door and instead enjoyed the breeze.” He noted that the “official word” was that the storm would not end for the LA area for another eight hours, but he was confident it was finished in his area. I hope he is right. A few hours earlier, in a series of back and forth texts, he reported that he was fully prepared for the storm; he had done all the right things: stocked up on food and water, filled his car with gas, etc. He even has a portable stove in the event he loses power. As long as he is right about the worst of the storm being behind him, all’s well with the world. Well, for him, anyway. Images of flooded roadways and angry, over-filled flood channels suggest some areas and the people in them continue to face severe threats.


Thanks to One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of Hot Springs, we slept in comfort last night. The “fix” to our air conditioner is temporary, but a technician is to return today (I hope) to replace two parts in the system’s components that reside in the crawl space beneath the house. Though the cost was significant, it was not (in my opinion) unreasonable for a Sunday service call. And the guy who came to do the work was very nice and accommodating. He could have left the system inoperable until he could return with replacement parts; but he performed a “work-around” so we could remain home in comfort. And multiple friends offered to let us stay with them until repairs could be made, too. We are fortunate beyond measure.


Enough pondering for the moment. Time to face the day, whatever it brings.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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