For the last few days, I have been debating which painting I should highlight next and NO MORE! always seems to come back as the front runner. So why not start the year with a strong, powerful painting!
I painted this piece about a year ago when I realised a number of life-changing truths about myself. Coming to terms, truly listening to your inner voice can be at times very humbling and emotional. In our society, it is easy to live in a superficial way, that is, by meeting external expectations and standards, while leaving unaddressed the inner whispers that seem to find their way to your ears when you allow yourself to be still and quiet. How easy it is to shut them down by just going on about life and being busy. After all, there are deadlines to meet at work, kids to feed and shuttle back and forth to their activities and oh, did I miss anything in the last hour on social media?
But when you actually create the space to listen to them, these whispers can reveal truths that will bring you down to your knees and make you rethink your core beliefs. One of my favourite podcasters, Sven Erlandson, often says that the soul will always win over the will and I firmly believe that he is right. The soul is relentless and will always aim to make us live authentically as who we are and to bring us back to the too-often forgotten facts that we are enough, loveable and worthy. When was the last time that you firmly believed that you, as you are - titles, achievements, performance asides - are enough and loveable? As we live more authentically, I also believe that we open ourselves to hear and support those around us who are in need and in pain, as our pain’s volume diminishes through increased self-love.
This brings me to the other angle of this painting. We live in a world increasingly in pain without clear responses to address them. Rather, it seems that the louder one speaks about injustices, unfairness and discrimination, the less effective relevant institutions are able to respond, and with the help of technologically-fabricated echo chambers, societal divides only seem to grow. It is almost like we, as a society, have lost the ability to hear and address issues, and anything that may put at risk established norms and systems is seen by some as dangerous and rogue.
To watch the news everyday has become a heroic feat - a lot of people around me have stopped following the news because it is too painful, hard to watch and affects their own mental health. At times, I have taken a step back as well as it was just too much. But, how does this contribute to our ability to understand the needs and try to make things better around us? Issues are so intertwined that trying to find a tangible solution at times seems impossible… it’s just too complex they say… and nothing seems to move forward. At the other end of the spectrum, voluntary groups and non-governmental organisations are pulling miracles with limited budget and staff and most of them, make a difference in the lives of the people they serve..
As I look back at my thirty years (almost) in government and the state of play of the world, I increasingly believe that the role of my generation is to support the younger ones to address the climate and socio-economic issues in front of us and to do so. As a whole, Generation X did not question how things were done and for the most part espoused the ‘work to live’ motto of the baby boom generation. With younger generations pushing for change, they still do not have the keys to the electrical box to rewire how things are done. How can we, with our experience, not be silent victims of what is occurring but positive actors helping our communities to strive?
My goal for 2024 is to think local and how I can contribute to making concrete change at the ground level, However small it is for those around me. As the older folks say in French, ‘c’est avec de cennes qu’on fait des piastre’, I think that a collective of small actions can actually lead to something grand. If we wait for global, swooping solutions to wars, racism, climate change inequality, homelessness, addiction, I fear that we will all be dead!
The other thing I will be thinking about is this blog and I will leverage it in months to come. Art and life when you are an expressionist artist are intertwined and as such, I think this blog will evolve as I continue my journey.
In the meantime, if you are in the Toronto area during the month of February, I will be participating in the You Do You group exhibition at the Leslie Grove gallery (Queen and Jones). I am very excited about this!
And here are my January ‘coups de coeur’ for those looking for recommendations:
- Just in time for Black History Month, the movie Rustin and the documentary on Nina Simone (What Happened, Miss Simone?) on Netflix
- A super refreshing interview ever with a professional athlete: Trevor Noah with Nick Kyrgios (https://open.spotify.com/episode/2fV0I5w6PA9mQGFo4ut7sX?si=9yzkCZmDTuiSm2HoNBUC5g) - available also on other providers