The sum of two ones is not an even number, or numerical. When two ones meet, the universe unfolds, creating an infinity that burns. Its slow heat gently soothes and violently simmers all the knots and can’ts. A practical alchemy that un-peals once invisible layers. Water becomes fire, stone to steam, breath to lava. Leftover, is a newly-colored numberless world of hope, anticipation and possibility.
Watercolor 12″ x 16″
This painting was a commission and handed over to a happy client today. My client told me a love story, gave me a sense of preferences and then gave me creative freedom to interpret it.
About three weeks ago, on October 11, I made a trip to the ER with ear-ringing pain in my leg. For about four weeks, I had been recovering from a herniated disc and moderate sciatica. After getting a new mattress a week and half before, the pain had been getting worse at night until that morning when it knocked me off my feet. I couldn’t handle it any more, I needed help. The sciatica was acute and I could barely walk.
What followed was two weeks of limited and painful mobility, lots of sleepless and angry nights and a slow and constant ingestion of Vicodin. I was invalid, needing help with everything from getting dressed, to eating and walking. And I was haunted by the sense that I was transformed. I wouldn’t ever be the same. But I’m still not clear on how.
So I painted. I sat in bed, when I could, and painted in whatever position my body would allow. I researched painting, I blogged about my painting. I ingested more art than pain meds. And I painted my injury.
Here is my herniated disc:
That red bulge is what is pressing on my nerve root and causing shooting pain all the way to my toes. And yes, beautiful because any life experience is.
This MRI shows the compression even better.
Here is my rendering. Interestingly it is like a mirror showing the prolapse on the right but actually mirroring my body as I paint. And the prolapse is exaggerated…like the pain.
Because pain, after time begins to feel as much psychological as physical. The fear of the pain is as debilitating as the pain itself. Every sensation is amplified.
Of course painting an injury begs the question, what about painting a healed Marika?
A healed body is not the same as a healed Marika. I don’t thinking painting a repaired herniated disc would represent a healed me. The answer made me think but, truthfully, it was obvious. It just wasn’t obvious until I began to emerge from the debilitating pain and detoxed.
I can walk now and tackle my rehab exercises. I can see the future. I have a vision. I love being fit and active and I’m ready to do what it takes to get back to it. Ican’t wait to return to crossfit and rock climb.
Give me my weights back and a pain-free crossfit workout, then I’ll declare myself healed.
Pain is a jealous God. Initially, a lit match and easily blown out. No problem. Disrespected, it flares, setting everything precious on fire, wickedly insisting on surrender. Everything is colored by pain. Nothing will be the same.
Twelve years is a formidable time. Upon review, our vows act as a magnifying glass. They are strangely prophetic while painful and joyful. Reflecting on the time passed, the words reach much deeper, beyond my heart and to my belly. A long road has been traveled between twelve years and two souls, not just in time and distance but in personal growth.
During our vows we read Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII that ends:
“so I love you because I know no other way than this: where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep”
Twelve years and our souls still merge, but do not be fooled into thinking the process is as easy, peaceful, and soothing as falling asleep. When red meets blue, they don’t just merge, but blend, fight, splatter, create structure and chaos, puncture, glow, constantly shift, recreate, learn, and reconstitute. Ultimately, the process is a form of beauty, but it is a process not a state.
My husband said this painting looked almost celestial. When I told him what it represented he said “Why? Because it is bloody and exploding everywhere?”