Painting from life has become less about the paint and more about the life. It’s the stuff that happens along the road. It’s the reason a sandwich tastes better when it’s 3:00 pm and you remember you haven’t eaten lunch.
I’m painting along when, out of nowhere, I have an incredible pain.
A kidney stone. I had to find an emergency room. The nurse’s name was Nancy. She took my blood pressure and searched for a vein to stick an IV. We laughed a little—the way people do when walking past a cemetery at night. She put me at ease, and I told her that she was doing a good job. She asked, on a scale from 1 to 10, what my pain was. I wanted to say 10, but I knew it could be worse, so I said 8.
There was a good three or four hours spent examining the ceiling tiles patterns. I hurt, but I realized there were patients who hurt more than me. There was a bad car accident on the other side of the curtain, and I could hear the crying. There was a death. It was sad. No one dies much of a kidney stone. You just wish you would.
They did some tests and told me the stone was 3mm and sent me back to the 16-foot Casita at the campground, with some medication that seemed to do nothing for the pain. I moaned and threw up a few times, and not a single @#$$&*) passed my lips. Kristi took care of me, and even though I was in pain, I knew I was loved, and I can honestly say it helped.
I thought about how similar this is to what we all go through. The pain inside that will not go away. It makes us frustrated, and we want to lash out to distract us from how unbearable it is. While painting, we ran into a drunk man with his girlfriend. He got quite belligerent, and although I tried to defuse the situation, he was intent on telling us how bad it was where we lived in Mississippi. Heck, it’s bad everywhere. It certainly was bad there that day. But a shop owner came out and apologized, explaining that’s not how people are in Eureka Springs. He was a kind man.
The next morning, we got on the road, and after a bit, the car began to go slower, a light began flashing, and it began running very rough. We waited for over an hour for AAA. He helped us out and pulled us to a campground, where we waited for a mechanic the next day. We met his wife and chihuahua-mix dog, Goliath. We talked about the unrest and how important it is to be kind. It’s a choice.
We all hurt now. Some people don’t know how to deal with it and cause more pain to others. Some people make the extra effort to help ease someone’s pain because they believe we all count. Because they know how it feels to hurt. My wife cared for me. The stone passed. The pain was almost unbearable, but just the knowledge that I was loved helped tremendously and made it better. Love is the kind of thing you cannot put in a bottle and keep. It has to be used.
We must look inside and make the painful better.
It will pass.