Yesterday was a bad day. The kind you hope never comes, but will come because we are humans in relationship with each other. I was trying to go about business as usual, to keep my sanity and not overthink things, when I came across the most amazing photo on my home banking website. It was the image you see above. This image brought to mind the smell of fishy water, the sound of clinking sailboats, and many wonderful childhood memories. The long shadow cast by the crab reminded me of waking very early during summer vacation with my brother and sister to walk down to the beach to go crabbing. I can feel this splintery dock under my feet as I walk along to find the perfect spot. I remember the indents in my knees from the rough wood as I knelt down to tie my line to a plank. The thrill of slowly pulling up the string, straining for a glimpse of a crab on the bait through the murky waters of the Chesapeake, while sibling one or two stands by with the net, ready to scoop the crab before it can get away. Once we get the crab on deck, we examine the brilliant colors, the size of the claws, is it a fighter or is it chill, is it a keeper?! I think this one is too small to keep and will be allowed to scuttle sideways back into the Severn River. Most days we would return home from crabbing empty handed but happy for having "caught" half a dozen, too small crabs. Mom would make us a tuna sandwich for lunch and Dad would remove the splinters we acquired from the pier as we recounted the glories of our morning adventure.
I knew I needed to draw this photograph from my bank's web page, because there was healing to be had in this image for me. There was a place for me to visit in my mind to serve as a break from a broken relationship I needed to address later that evening, the sudden death of a friend, and the waves of tears that kept overtaking me unexpectedly throughout the day.
Tough as I may think I am, emotions sweep over me like waves of the ocean sometimes. They drag me down, rake me across the bottom and spit me out again with a mouth full of sand. I've learned from the ocean to grab a breath of air before the next wave hits, because it will be coming shortly after. Art is one way I catch my breath.
Art, for me, is a place of rest. A time to slow down and look and really see. I allow myself to be absorbed into the scene and feel something else for a while. It saddens me that the arts are vanishing from our education system. How will people find rest for their minds? The STEM subjects may cure illnesses of the body eventually, but the arts are soothing to the everyday bumps and bruises of the mind today. The arts provide the brain an alternate route, another way to find solutions to the problems we encounter, a time outside of time, a place outside of here and now.
Today, art taught me that the loss of my friend is like coming home empty handed. I am sad for myself because her company was delicious, but happy for her because she is safe and happy where she belongs. I learned that friendship is worth the splinters left in my life that will be painful every time I step on them and take time to heal but serve as lovely reminders of the memories built together. Today, art helped me catch a breath between the waves of repairing a broken friendship and mourning the loss of a dear one to death. I dedicate this drawing to the memory of my dear Elena who is now with her Jesus. Your life mattered my friend and you will be greatly missed. Thanks for all the splinters.
Sherry Barrett is an active artist who takes inspiration from great works of literature, historical figures, and wise people.