The Art of Darkness (Look Even When It Hurts)

Some stories are grounding. Some stories are uplifting. And some stories are hard to hear for their raw truths, their discomfort, their guttural pain, and their gory details.

Some art is hard to look at for the same reasons. Pain is hard to bear witness to. The work of Anselm Kiefer comes to mind.

I had a difficult weekend.

The physicality of having surgery and living in a recovering body feels just like good art often does: real, raw, and hard to look at. It hurts and is incredibly tangible.

I am finding it difficult to bear witness to my own scars in this moment. Looking at incisions and bruises on my own body leads me to believe I am not seeing my own body at all. I become foreign, alien. Then I feel the pain, remember the anesthesiologist holding my hand, feel my husband's parting kiss on my lips, remember my night of anger, and know it all happened to me. The emotional loss around it feels like a beast moving just below the surface. I have never experienced as much physical pain as I did this past weekend, yet it wasn't my darkest moment either.

Me: half broken. A failed IV attempt. My stomach is a similar color, but I'll spare you.

Me: half broken. A failed IV attempt. My stomach is a similar color, but I'll spare you.

Half Broken, 4x4" oil on panel

Half Broken, 4x4" oil on panel

As always in my life, I am pulled back to the art I see in the earth. In these moments I am finding comfort in the way the earth mimics our human bodies and lives on.

We mine the earth, creating scars and altering the composition. We dig our roads, build our houses, and reroute the water to our liking. We infiltrate and take.

And yet the earth keeps living, healing, and growing.
And yet the earth will take back every area and nook we don't tend.
And yet the patterns we make on the earth are often beautiful from far above.

And so I heal. We all do.

My challenge to you:
Look even when it hurts. When you find a way to tell hard stories they become an art form unto themselves.