Quantum Identity II: Purpose in the Wake of Pain, and the Levity of Strength in Weakness
This is the second piece in my Quantum Identity series. It explores the dynamic tension inherent in life after loss, especially the idea of resilience. Where does one's identity come into play (or even shape) one's resilience? What does it mean to identify as a victim, survivor, overcomer, or some other title, or, conversely, to not even take on a loss as part of one's identity or story?
Loss and pain are part of life, and there's no getting around that. Some people experience more loss than others, though. Still, pain is pain. And yet, people continue to survive, and sometimes even thriven the face of seemingly unbearable losses.
I've done a tremendous amount of study on loss, grief, recovery, and resilience, and have lived into a lot of this in my own life as well. I've spoken to numerous audiences about my concept of "Emotional Alchemy," which is a concept I believe is at the core of resilience. Basically, I believe that if you have experienced a loss, you have already paid the price, so why not get everything you can out of it?
This principle has even worked in the most extreme of situations. Several years ago I lost everything when my partner relapsed into grave addiction, eventually winding up in prison. In a single day I discovered that I had lost three companies, all of my savings and retirement, my home, and, of course, my marriage. It was one of the darkest times of my life, but one of the things that kept me going every day was knowing that if I really looked for it, I could find the treasure buried in this dark cave. I would learn every lesson possible, and I knew that if I kept looking for the good in this seemingly hopeless situation, my life would not just get better, but I would one day be able to look back on this with gratitude and genuine healing.
Also, if I could at least learn something, and even if that was the only gift I could find in the situation, then at least it would not be a total loss. I'd already paid the price, so I might as well get everything I could out of it.
Later I would discover that current research shows that this is one of the cornerstones of a resilient personality. This painting explores all of these ideas, representing turbulence, division, and darkness, which sometimes spills over into even more than our own lives, affecting those around us. Our pain is not just ours to bear, and the way we process our pain and move through it affects those around us. Conversely, our healing and our stories of meaning and resilience can also help or inspire other people who can learn from our experience, strength, and hope. Maybe our suffering ultimately even changes the world.
This idea is expressed in the way the paint, texture, and crystals all go out over the frame, splashing out to invade and/or transform the surrounding space. These events, and the effects of these events, cannot be contained.
Resilience takes a lot of work, too, so before I started this painting, I collected my own actual blood, sweat, and tears on paper, which I then incorporated into the "turbulent" lower half of the painting, creating the texture. This is an obvious reference to the common idiom of "blood sweat and tears" being the mark of something arduous or handcrafted, something that took real work to make. Still, though, I mashed the paper until it became like thick paint, so I was still able to work with it - I was still the paper's master, and it still shows my brushstrokes. It was work, but it was my work, and it was worth it. Just like the work of resilience.
Finally, I impregnated almost all of the materials I used with different forms of interference pigments and powders or reflective ingredients. I wanted the painting to change in the light, reflecting (and being impacted by) the inevitable cycles of the day and the context the painting found itself in. Just as recovery from loss (or addiction, for that matter) is cyclical and ebbs and flows, the painting speaks to and is affected by these cycles as well. And, of course, loss, and hopefully resilience, are part of the natural course of our lives just as cycles of day and night, brightness and darkness.
$4500.00 "43 x "31