Or the gift of a moment
The other day I went, together with my 16-year-old adolescent daughter, who is obviously fighting with herself to find her true identity, to see the exhibition of a dear friend who has been resisting to be devoured by cancer for the last ten years. It was her first exhibition since more than a year after she had had a car accident, then the diagnosis of yet another form of cancer and three operations. She could do anything but survive and create. She translated her fragility onto the canvas, painting her pets which kept her company in her trial.
Driving with my daughter through the lush countryside of the South West of the Netherlands, a part called West Brabant, we discovered that the event was held in an ancient farm which had been converted into artist workshops. The blend of the surroundings fields, pebbles, designer garden and traditional thatched buildings made it a special place to be. Four artists were showing their paintings, ceramics, and jewellery inside barns, workshops, in the attic and in the garden. The weather was beautiful and despite a little wind we could sit outside under the trees. The opening was accompanied by music sung by the young daughter of the owner of the gallery.
Other friends we had not seen for more than a year also joined the group of admirers so the celebration of reunion and revival was complete. At some point, we were standing in the old garden greenhouse where grapes, basil and other herbs thrived and got talking about the past year. The artist’s husband, himself a successful photographer, a very active man who despite all his wife´s health problems managed to keep his business going, move house and workshop to a more suitable location, listened attentively to my daughter who told him about her recent search and heavy struggle to understand the purpose of her life. Unable to stand still, looking intensely at her with great kindness, he told her that the only way he could cope with the tragedy of illness and depression is to realise one thing: how lucky we are!
“Just imagine billions of years of evolution in which humans were not yet walking this earth, just imagine the incredible coincidence that humans, you and me, can walk on this planet and smell the scent of roses. Just look around, at us, at the art, at nature and imagine that you would have missed this. Just think of the mystery necessary to make nature evolve so that we can realise independently from each other how rich we are to be able to smell the basil, to listen to the songs, to see the painting of the red tiger cat, just imagine …..”and he started drawing an imaginative timeline in the air, “all the billions of years of gas, sulphate, mud, volcano’s spitting fire and volcanic ashes, heavy storms battering the earth, the ice ages, the dinosaurs, the apes, and now all of a sudden Plop here we are, humans in all shades and colours, breaking nature’s secrets. Or thinking to break nature’s secrets. Plop here we are, plop here we are gone… Do you see how incredibly lucky we are to live this one moment together? Do you realise what was necessary for this one moment to be, what was necessary in evolutionary terms? How many times our ancestors have made love – and my daughter blushed – to make us happen? How your great-grandmother pained in labour to make sure your grandfather would live. How your parents did the same, so that you could live? (and her blushing got deeper).
I do not understand why people should kill each other. We should be amazed together of the gifts we have been given just by being alive and the capacity to realise that we are living. That is when choice appears….ha! now it is getting interesting. You and me as humans have a choice, we can decide to commit suicide. No other creature so far in the evolution of this planet as far as we know, has ever had that choice. What a great responsibility! We can actually choose to fight inner battles to stay alive, battles against cancer, battles against hormones dancing a maddening dance, (and obviously he accompanied his words with a maddening dance) battles of principles when dealing with a boring neighbour. We have a choice to say yes to life and to live it the way we want to live it. As victims of destiny or as its creators. We can choose for love or for hate. Think about it! “and he looked her deeply in the eyes, “just think plop, here I am, sixty-five or eighty years on average, and plop, I am gone. Plop! Here I am, plop here I am gone, we are gone, the human race´s short-lived trajectory on earth is gone. What a privilege to be here, don’t you think? What a privilege….! Just make the most of it!”