I really don’t think my mom meant the unfortunate consequences of being helpful. She just didn’t want to see me struggle.
You see, I was born a couple of weeks premature. Nothing serious, but I was only five pounds and had to spend some time in an incubator. That’s probably why she called me her “little chicken.” In her arms, and her eyes, I was too fragile to make it on my own.
It must’ve been then that she decided I needed to be protected. If anything went wrong, she would “save me” … if I couldn’t get it done (or at least “done right”) she would jump in and “fix it.”
I know she meant well, but unknown to her I built up a resentment for help. I set myself up for a life of doing everything myself, or giving up if someone stepped in. It wasn’t healthy, and so many decades later, I still have to “check myself before I wreck myself.”
But what does this have to do with Stu Rosen Art?
Have you ever heard the story about the butterfly and the cocoon? In a nutshell (or is that chrysalis?) it’s the struggle of getting out of the cocoon that gives the butterfly the power to fly.
When I picked up my art, after many years of quitting, I became determined that it wasn’t going to happen again. I flashed back to a storage box I had that was labelled “Writings and Other Unfinished Dreams”. That was supposed to be my motivation, but it was a constant reminder of my “failures.”
Add to this was my mother’s attempts to be encouraging…
“It’s a shame you never did more with your art.”
Not the best motivator.
We talked about my art before she passed away. I reminded her of something she said when I was a teenager.
“Your brother would’ve been a better artist than you, if he hadn’t quit.”
I still remember where I was standing, and even what I was wearing, in that moment. It was the first time I consciously remember being compared to my brother (although I’m sure there were plenty of times I hadn’t noticed). And not only was I being compared, I was “less than.”
It was a comparison that would carry me well into adulthood. I was always going to be in second place in a two-man race. I was always going to be the shameful disappointing little chicken that needed saving.
It was a weak place to be… and no place to rebuild my life.
She didn’t remember ever saying those things… and she was genuinely, deeply regretful if she did say those things.
I assured her that she did, but that they no longer needed to stay between us.
Words are powerful, but forgiveness is stronger.
It’s a shame (no, it’s not!) that she wasn’t around to see Stu Rosen Art. I know her walls would’ve been filled with my calendars and prints (I mean, she kept pieces I made when I was 14!)
I know, I know, I know that she was proud of me. She just presented it in an awkward way that I misunderstood.
Those words have been transformed. Those habits have become a part of my work.
Look again at all my pieces. You see all those scribbles? You see how everything just trails off? That’s me turning “unfinished” into an art form.
It leaves room for you to finish it for yourself.
It’s done enough for me.
Help me finish the story with a trip to an Art Gallery in London, in April 2023. Every little bit helps. https://gofund.me/f6cfc391