Letter to My Son
Sunday, February 17
Good Morning Jack…
A soft snow fell today, like sprung feathers from a burst pillow, covering with white the yellow flowered daffodils that dare push Spring into the cold wind of early February. Jake, the dog, wore his bright red sweater to dinner, the one with the emblem of a bone stitched about his shoulders. I’ve been taunting Mother Nature to provide us a layer of Winter and it has now, finally, come to pass. Overnight the frozen air fixes our frosting blanket into a snap, crackling icy brittle. It’s guaranteed to give Sunday morning church-goers pause.
I always wonder how you and the family are doing. You turn sixteen this year. That is so beyond the age I last knew you. I doubt I would recognize you if our paths were now to cross. I would more likely know you from words you might write me on the page. You were already developing an enthusiasm for expressing yourself in words at a very young age. The four of you kids all have lively minds, yours probably the most serious. What hope I have is meant for good fortune to be shared by you all. Yes, of course, I include your mother. She shamelessly spoils all of you, I’m sure.
Lately, I’ve taken to drawing with ink again. It’s all very tight, jagged and busy. I haven’t a clue if there’s any meaning to be found here. I really prefer to work empty headed. Rarely have I carried through to completion any image of a preconceived notion. The line starts on the paper with one thing in mind only to veer into something else at the first suggestion of another tangent. There’s no point in fighting it. These persistent, insatiable really, quirks provide us our identity. They put our fingerprints all over the page. Take this method from me and I fall out of love. For me art is the expression of our own particular version of humanity.
You don’t arrive at sixteen without experiencing the life fulfilling emotion that is love. Can we agree that it is a powerful mystery and, for simple human beings such as ourselves, it should always remain so. That’s not really a question. I don’t care to know the chemical structure of its potion. It wouldn’t matter to me. Is there an artist afraid of love? Yes. It does tend to tip the apple cart. We’re sometimes left stranded on deserted shores. But we return mesmerized by its flame. You just don’t fight what is responsible for human life. If turned away by a door slammed shut we soon find the courage to search elsewhere. This is as it should be. There’s probably a Biblical verse somewhere that says that very thing, only expressed in the manner of King James.
Imagine a portrait of the one you love done only in the most brilliant of primary colors – true blue, spring green, scarlet red and sunburst yellow. It goes without saying black and snow white are also invited. Give the assignment to fifty artists. The result would surprise you with the ingenious breadth of the human imagination. This is the core of what people are about when we feel unconstrained by circumstance of fear and, instead, filled with energy for exploration when being guided by the most positive of light. This sense of overwhelming empowerment works equally well with mechanics, engineers and chefs only they use tools familiar to their trade – like wrenches, calculators and ladles.
Next time let’s think about something entirely different in approach. Maybe we’ll consider the role of diplomacy in a world no longer provided the buffers of space and time. We might decide to crack the lid and peer into speculation on how the human mind formulates existence. That sounds stimulating but also very ambitious. Maybe we’ll settle for talking about appreciating the taste of fruit.