Running to the rescue!!
I knew that I wished to write a blogpost this week but had 2 different ideas swirling through my head- Autism and my latest artwork. I’ve written before about how running seems to clear my mind and let creative thoughts enter. This has happened once again!
I found my muse while out for a long run the other day. (11 miles, in fact. I’m training for another 1/2 marathon at the end of this month.) I’ve taken to downloading and listening to NPR’s This American Life as I run to keep me company.
The shows tell different stories in separate acts that revolve around that theme. The stories, themselves, are often intriguing and inspiring. But as I was starting on my last mile and the segment ran out, I let my thoughts wander about the blogpost I hoped to write and almost felt all the synapsis come together in my brain.
What if I told both my stories in 2 separate acts just like This American Life? What if I could find a common theme among them that would tie the 2 of them together? It didn’t take me long to find that tie and feel the excitement well within me. (Although it could have also been the euphoria of rounding the last bend and spotting home where I could chug a gallon of water and put up my aching feet!)
So without further adieu, I give you What’s In A Name: A blog in 2 Acts.
ACT 1- Autism
Many of you may know that I have an autistic son. For the past few years around this time (April 2 is World Autism Day) I’ve shared a little about him and/or my experiences with Autism. (See the related posts at the end of this for past articles I’ve written.)
This year I debated whether to write about him/it or not. When you live it day in and day out for as long as we have, it can feel redundant to try and explain what many have attempted. What more can be said? (Beyond that we need more support in our schools, communities, states, and national government to make sure all kids with autism get their needs met.– My soapbox moment!)
But then my son surprised me and made me question what this autism thing is all about.
Before I go on, I feel I should introduce you to my son in case you haven’t met him already. N. is now 16 years old and is the oldest of our 3 kids. We’ve known about his autism since he was 3 1/2 years old and have gone through countless assessments, therapies, treatment plans (Ie: lots of meetings), and have worked with a plethora of wonderful people who have helped us over the years.
He has come a long way and so have we. There are still many challenges that we’ll need to face as he gets older but I feel confident that we possess the tools that we need to meet them.
That is, until the other day. I was talking to my youngest daughter and N’s autism came into the conversation. Since N. was within earshot and I didn’t want him to feel left out, I said, “Hey N., What’s Autism?”
As he often does when he doesn’t quite understand the question, he asked my own question, ” What’s Autism?”
I was taken aback. With all that we had gone through I figured he knew. But I guess I should know by now that I can’t assume anything with him. So I said, “You know you have autism, right?”
He repeated again, “What’s Autism?”
I began repeating the technical jargon that we all know, (It’s a cognitive disorder that affects behavior, development, and communication), but I could see that it was going in one ear and out the other.
So then I said, “it is why some things are challenging for you”. But N. didn’t think so. To him, he can talk to people just fine (even though it is all about Thomas the Tank and Disney World), knows as much as he needs to, and doesn’t drive a car yet because we won’t let him!
Then I countered that with, “It’s what makes you special.” But isn’t what every kid hears? (At least, If they’re in a loving environment) That each person is unique and different in their own special way.
I found myself not able to define Autism to N. and it made me wonder, even after all these years and all that we had been through with it, what it really was?
Act 2- Paintings
Those of you that have been following me on social media may have noticed that within the past few months I have been developing a new series of paintings. They are what I’ve begun to call my “nature intensified” series. (Here is a recent article about creating an artist statement for them.)
I’ve enjoyed creating them and learning more about myself and my painting process through them. They are like my children, and I love revealing them to others and getting feedback.
Most recently, I’ve created a series within a series. They are four 12″x12″ paintings that I’ve treated like snippets, close-ups of a small area within my larger paintings. Whereas my larger ones are a little more representational- these are abstracted and are even a little experimental in treatment.
They have gotten me a bit baffled because I’m not sure exactly what they’re about, (which usually doesn’t bother me much) and I’m not sure what to call them (which, again, usually isn’t a problem for me.).
Above all, I’m not sure why I’m even baffled by them. I should just call them some random generic title and be done with it, right?!
But no, I can’t.
Somehow, I feel that the title of this series is hanging in the wind somewhere and all I have to do is grasp it.
This is how I describe the title that I need to find. It needs to be nature oriented but not too specific since all the paintings are of different areas. Some are of spaces between rocks, others of a clearing in the base of a tree, another is of the end of a trickle of water, and there may be other paintings added of various nooks and crannies.
Nooks and Crannies?
Hanging in the Wind?
Beneath The Willow Tree?
Do you see what I mean? All are good titles but none of them are good enough. And so the search continues…
Do you think God had this much trouble in putting names and titles to the things he created? I don’t think so. According to Genesis, he named them right after he created them- like his stamp of approval.
He chose the names that were hanging in the wind. The ones that were meant to be and always was.
What’s a name?
It is a jumping off point and sometimes raises more questions then it answers.