Sunday, April 25, 2010

Promised Land

In a few minutes, while the turkey roasts, I'm going to the garage so that I can paint. I'm repainting a canvas for the fourth time. It's a nice sized canvas, taller than me, and wider; I stretched it myself almost twenty years ago.

The first painting on that canvas was a dog howling at a lady draped erotically over the moon. When J was 4, I repainted the entire canvas Ochre yellow. I worried that the naked, arching lady would emotionally scar J. The third painting was never finished. It was of J, age eight or nine, sitting on an old mattress. I stopped painting that one when I got pregnant again. I didn't want to expose Z to the brain-altering smell of paint thinner, besides, I had no energy to spare.

Five years later I've decided to paint again. This time the canvas shows a troubled lady refusing to leave Mitzrayim, or that which enslaves her. Start painting during Passover; this is what you get. Anyway, I'm painting again, and that makes life better.

Teaching requires constant creativity. Each day is different. I can't approach the same subject in exactly the same way twice. Taking into consideration class, curriculum, and current events, I strive to create something gorgeous. It must help children learn, make families stronger; it must also resonate with me. It has to be honest to my vision. In order to create this artwork known as a classroom, I must interact with children, their parents, co-workers, and the community. As pleasant as this can be, it also drains energy from an introvert like me.

Painting restores me. It is the same as teaching, except that the energy flows in a different direction. Rather than giving, I take. Instead of converting information from my brain into understandable lessons, I find my own voice mixed in with the Universe and let it speak. There are other selfish activities that help me regain balance after a long day. Embroidery, cooking, and writing are three. Doing any of these makes me a better teacher, mother, and friend.

So the woman in my current painting: what's she holding on to? What is her Mitzrayim? That's the question for us all, isn't it?

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