Saturday, March 31, 2012


The art of life is the art of avoiding pain, (and) the most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves.  - Thomas Jefferson

Linda, my wife of 27 years died late last year from complications in the treatment of Lymphoma.  In the months since her death I have been taking a crash course in grieving, and the blog has been on hold.  Thomas Jefferson was an idealist, and a retreat into "intellectual pleasures" is an ideal that few can afford, and fewer are equipped to accomplish.

However, everyone edits the painful events of daily life, creating something of value, and that is my goal.  The last quarter century is a rich mine of experiences which I intend to distil into an array of clear, glowing memories.

So... what can I make of the deep sorrow of the last few months?  As an architectural Illustrator I try to inject emotion into concrete, glass and steel.  But I have found that deep sorrow is an enervating emotion.  Quotidian tasks are mindlessly taken up, but anything demanding a fine tuned balance is exhausting.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
- Shakespeare

I cannot express my grief in architectural rendering, but I can in anything expressly human or human scaled.  A specific rendering job will take me away from the pain, but will not serve to distil the memory.  The human form and the personal objects of everyday life are a touchstone that will bring me home.

I said that I inject emotion into inanimate objects, but there is a practical lesson to be learned here.  Sorrow is an emotion that doesn't sell.  Grief is an intimate feeling that, in my experience prefers solitude.  When faced with death it is best not to preach, but instead to simply be available for support.  This is not an emotion to inspire grandiose plans, or paint glowing visions of the future.  The personal and intimate is the domain of sorrow and wisdom.  Other emotions can build buildings.

So, it is back to the drawing board.  Linda is gone, and I must carry on.  But she would not have had it any other way.  She once said that if I died before her that she would still follow me.  It sounded morbid and silly at the time, but I can see the wisdom now.  She took a piece of me with her, and some of her is living in me.  That is how life works, and it is only sad that it took this long for me to realize it.

Keep me away
from the wisdom
which does not cry,
the philosophy
which does not laugh
and the greatest
which does not bow
before children.
- Kahlil Gibran