Originally posted to my blog Both Sides of the Bed on 17 February 2022, with minor edits One of the most difficult aspects of parenthood is born from the knowledge we gain while experiencing the ups and downs of our own lives. By virtue of the mistakes we make, our brushes with death, our time spent in war zones... we know just how quickly this world can damage our children, and it is a terrifying revelation. Those of us with anxiety issues could probably speak volumes on the subject and relay countless anecdotes on the waking nightmare machinations of anxious minds, and the myriad ways in which they've already "seen" the world hurt their kids. Thankfully, I do not experience crippling anxiety in that way, but I do still see the world and what it is capable of, and it is enough to unsettle me. We are a species that will go out of its way to tear ourselves, and each other, apart.
A Portrait in Time and Space
The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. A candle burning in a cabin window is an altogether benign thing to see, except for just one suddenly and absolutely deniable fact: this candle had never been there to begin with. It should be impossible for a candle to exist in this abandoned cabin. The cabin, the woods, and the abandonment: all of these things had been envisioned and realized intentionally, and had been brought to life without a thought ever being given to a candle, lit or unlit, in the window of this cabin. It had been painted, stroke by stroke, layer upon layer of oil color laid by hand, and never had there been a candle, not until about a week ago, when, as if it had been there the whole time, a candle burned in the window of “The Abandoned Cabin, 1968,” signed by artist Terry Ross (presumably circa 1968), before being printed on pre-stretched canvas en masse and distributed by Distinguished Wall Art, Inc., purchased by my father, and hung on my bedroom wall on my birthday. I did not feel any sort of profound affinity for the print, but in the absence of family photos full of smiling kin it seemed an apropos substitute to hang on my bedroom wall. And that is not to say that my family and I were not happy, we were, but there was just no photographic evidence to chronicle our happiness. No, our family preferred paintings and prints of paintings, as if we were curating our own lives via the visions and efforts of others, and even then through the visions and efforts printed in bulk and sold at a deep discount. We were not the “live, laugh, love” sort of wall art family, make no mistake, but we were the family with prints by Gaudi, Gauguin, Dali, et al, adorning the walls of our shared spaces, instead of records of our own earned memories.