Wednesday, September 7, 2011

devastation from Hurricane Irene and how it has touched my life

what Hurricane Irene did to a road less than a mile from where I spent many of my childhood years
(you may have to click to get a bigger picture)

For a change, this post isn't about art. Frankly, the devastation that Irene has caused to my childhood heart and home from that time has made it hard to create the usual kind of fantasy, Renaissance and holiday art and music I am known for. In fact, it is an event like this that makes me do a double-take, wondering what I am doing with my art (and life in general). I feel so sad about what has happened as I still know many people from the area. 

The sadness has intermingled with another sadness over the death of a childhood friend from the same area around the time as the hurricane, someone who put his life out for other people, someone who gave selflessly to those less fortunate.

This next picture is a road (that hurricane Irene turned into a river). It is the road my parents drove on a lot. I drove on it too when I got my license, in fact I barreled down it with abandon because it had so little traffic. You can see the remnants of the road where the dog is standing:

I have heard from a number of sources that the municipality in which it dwells will probably never rebuild it: they will just consider it a "lost road".

The next picture is a road going into the nearby town, only a few miles down the road:

Many people in the area have lost their homes permanently because insurance doesn't pay for flooding.

I have a bit of that "innocence lost" kind of feeling at this time. This was a wonderfully idyllic place to live as a child. It was rural, mountainous and one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen anywhere. And the community! ... let's just say it was a childhood of peace, beauty, deep conversations and purpose in world-wide causes. Think "underground railroad" with lots of like-minded people.

It was such a stark contrast to the life I have now where community is tenuous and often baffling, where I seem to have stepped "down a rabbit hole" and haven't come out yet, for lack of a better metaphor. Where do I find the child I once was who was part of causes, fighting for rights, helping others struck by prejudice and injustice and speaking out fearlessly? 

I am not finding it in my recent art. And that is a part of me that is missing that I suddenly wanted back in the wake of this recent turn of events. In fact, life as a child was sometimes so intense (and sometimes dangerous) that I used art as an escape. Obviously I am still escaping and not using art to engage. This is what struck me about the hurricane. It blew into my mind and woke me up about that. Perhaps I need a new path.

When I look at the piece I did just before the hurricane ("Hurricane of Doves and Hearts" on this page), it began to have a new poignancy for me. Indeed, as in the painting, my childhood home of love and peace was disrupted by a hurricane. I hope the doves and hearts are just merely displaced, not missing.  

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