Monday, July 11, 2016

Chasing Carrots

A couple of weeks ago, I was cleaning for a friend and she showed me an art book she had by James Christensen.  He is a science fiction/religious artist I guess you could say.  His characters are just that, characters borne from his imagination yet are rich in layers of deep and thoughtful meaning.

I knew of this artist and have seen his work around but never really looked much deeper until my friend pointed out to me what some of his paintings meant.  This is one that really stood out to me.

He calls it, The Burden of the Responsible Man...
The Burden of the Responsible Man- James Christensen

It kind of made me laugh because the guy is carrying a Hedgehog...Shelbie's Hedgehog has become my little responsibility since she hasn't had any energy to take care of him. So, he is just another little piece of baggage to add to my growing collection.

James describes this painting as one that he did when he felt burdened and overwhelmed with everything he had to do and all the expectations that people placed on him. He said he felt like life was taking everything and giving nothing back in return.  Yet, there was always this carrot dangling in front of him that he felt compelled to follow.  Being the responsible person that he was, he kept plodding along.  Eventually, things got better and he could see that his trials were some of his greatest blessings.

Does this sound familiar or what?  It does to me.  Life takes and takes and takes...I give and give and give in hopes that somehow, some way it makes up for the deficit in feeling purposeful or holding my grasp on 'normal'.  The carrot dangles just out of my reach.  Always just beyond the tips of my fingers.

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I just stopped chasing the carrot.  If I stopped being so responsible...If I didn't try to be everything to everyone.  I wonder what would happen if one day, I just decided to remain 'undone'.  There have been a few times this year when that exact thing happened just out of shear exhaustion and circumstances and it didn't end well.  There have been a few who were extremely disappointed in me and didn't spare me their reprimands for being less than attentive.


It's a tempting thought and the more I entertain this idea, the more I can see how it could spin off in all sorts of direction and meaning.  In my black and white world, it would certainly look a lot like giving up.

I don't imagine that I'm going to be anything but responsible in the near future.  I guess you could say my kids are one of the carrots that keeps me getting up to live this life day after day.

I have been thinking about the lessons to be learned this year.  There are a few I have recognized to be lessons, I'm just not entirely sure I have completely learned them.

Today, the boys have been working their little fingers to the bone on getting the bathroom done.  Bless them!  I have grown extremely tired of this project and their fresh energy is meaningful to me. They stripped the vanity, primed it, cut off the moldy parts and got the first coat of paint on!  Spencer also fixed Sam's bedroom door that hasn't been closing properly for the past year.  I'm so grateful.

I can say for certain, that one thing that has come out of our poverty and scarce living is the principle of hard work, resiliency, and resourcefulness.  I have always thought it was important to teach them to be self sufficient and responsible.   I can't think of how I really would have been able to do that if life had of been all fun and games on easy street.

As I look at the bathroom and what we have been able to accomplish as a family in getting it repaired for next to nothing, I see in the imperfect work, a family that just figures life out, no matter what.  That makes me happy.  I know there will be many who, if given the chance would find all sorts of things wrong with our bathroom remodel but I think it's perfect.  There's a story and soul in every inch of that room.

What's in store for tomorrow?  More chances to be responsible...more carrot chasing I suppose.


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