More and more wonderful people are coming into my life. Old friends, new friends, and people whom I never met - with kind, caring and beautiful hearts. I'd like to dedicate to you this oil painting I made years ago. Beneath are also some fragments from "Master and the Green-Eyed Hope" - that tell its story:
“The construction work still continued after I finished writing. I realized that the noise was much easier to deal with while I was focused on my memory of the lesson. But when I closed my notebook, the noise seemed to rise, together with my irritation.
I walked to the kitchen, and opened the fridge. No, I wasn’t hungry. And I couldn’t take the noise anymore. All I wanted to do was get out of there as soon as I could. I shut the fridge door.
Quickly, I put on my boots, grabbed my coat, hat and gloves and ran downstairs.
When I got out on the street, I sighed with relief and now was able to button up, adjust my hat and put on the gloves. I realized I’d forgotten my scarf but wouldn’t go back and get it if my life had depended on it.
I started to walk fast, away from the noise, away from my “sanctuary”, as if I were trying to escape from the Master, the Temple, perhaps even myself? Yes, I felt sudden anxiety, the old friend whom I had hoped to forget. It had crept back on me, like a serpent emerging from the underground. It might have been the invasive renovation noise that made me feel that way, even though I thought I was able to deal with it.
I kept walking fast. The anxiety was now “at my throat”, like a hungry guard dog with a crooked tail.
What on earth am I doing? — I thought. Is this what I wanted? Lonely nights and days, filled with fantastic tales of my meetings with an imaginary friend? While the world is filled with real people, their real lives, their real hammers and drills! Oh, God... — I felt tears about to overflow my widened eyes.
I closed them, only for a moment, to prevent myself from crying, and that’s when I bumped into a small and thin old lady. She dropped her shopping bag because of the impact of our collision. Oranges, apples and pears were rolling on the icy sidewalk. I quickly knelt down and started to pick them up, while apologizing to her a thousand times. I couldn’t help the tears anymore. They started to roll down my cold cheeks. The lady was surprised by my crying, thinking I felt guilty from almost knocking her over.
“But... dear child, accidents happen. It’s nothing, really. Look, the fruit is not bruised at all.”
She helped me up to my feet, as if it had been I and not she who had been harmed in any way. She reached in her pocket and took out an old fashioned cotton handkerchief. I looked in her pale blue eyes while she was wiping my tears. I couldn’t help thinking that she reminded me of my grandmother, who was over four thousand miles away. The same pale blue eyes, small thin body, kindness, soft voice, and the white cotton handkerchief.
I finally smiled, as if I had smiled at my dear grandmother. The old lady’s eyes smiled at me in return.
“Have a pear,” she said handing me the fruit. “It’ll make you feel better. You’ll see.”
We walked together for a while. I was eating the pear, and carrying her shopping bag with the other hand. I learned that the old lady came out of town and was visiting her granddaughter here in Toronto. The young girl was a fashion design student at Ryerson University. She had sewn a whole collection out of ribbons, shoelaces, and kitchen cloths. She had pierced her nose and dyed her hair green. And the old lady was very proud of her.
“It is our dreams that make our lives worthwhile,” she said. “That which happens inside us, is the only real thing. Everything else is just a distraction we use as an excuse to avoid that real thing. Because it takes a lot of courage to live one’s truth.”
The building was quiet when I returned. There was no noise after six pm.
I decided to go out the next day, and buy some linen canvas. I had a set of oil paints, and excellent brushes I had brought with me from Europe. An idea for a painting had already developed in my mind, and I wanted to put it on canvas over the next few days.
It was a very cold morning. As if winter wanted us to really feel her frosty breath on the last day of February.
I left the building early, before the noise began, and went to Chinatown. There was a small art supply store there that I liked very much. A painter’s paradise filled with canvas of any size, paints for every possible technique — from simple acrylics to sophisticated oils, brushes of various quality and purpose, and all imaginable tools.
The owner was a middle aged man, and one could tell right away that he was a painter himself. There was a certain expression on his face, when he looked at things, that only painters had. The instant assessment and appreciation of shapes, colors, textures, geometry and relationships between objects. Yes, definitely, he must have been a painter.
I hadn’t painted for several years. My husband was the truly talented one, and it was he who had done all the paintings in our home, not I. Including the water drop portrait that I had always admired. It had been my favorite painting of his. But all was gone now. My husband, our home, and the water drop.
I got the canvas I needed, and managed to get home without knocking anyone over with the brown paper package when I was making my way on the streetcar and the subway. No accidents, no encounters, no old ladies to bump into and then apologize to. I considered myself lucky to have had such an easy ride home.
Then I fell. Just as I was approaching my building, only a few yards away from the entrance. I was sitting on the sidewalk and looking at my precious package. The wrapping was torn, and my canvas was broken too. I didn’t bother to get up from the cold sidewalk, until I thoroughly examined the canvas. Yes, the wooden frame was broken, but the linen was still OK.
It’s not that bad — I thought. I’ll buy some wood and repair the frame.
And that’s when it happened. One of the hellish construction workers, my enemy, the renovations’ Satan himself, appeared out of nowhere in front of me.
“Let me help you, Miss,” he said.
Before I knew it, I was standing up on my feet. Oh, he was strong, that devil, and I quickly looked at his face.
To my surprise, I was looking at the possible incarnation of Santa Claus! A jovial, warm, round and old face, garnished with a round reddish nose, and a pair of small cheerful eyes. Even his belly was perfectly the way it was supposed to be. A jolly, funny belly. And the white hair — all was just the same!
“Are you all right, Miss?” asked the Santa Claus.
Still in shock at his appearance, I only nodded several times.
“And what have we here?” He was now examining my miserable canvas. “Nothing I couldn’t fix for you,” he smiled widely. “No charge.”
And he was right. It took him no time to make a new frame for my canvas. After all, he had all that was needed, right at hand: the wood, the hammers, the drills, and the nails.
I also learned from him that the renovations would last just another few days! It might have been the only time in my life that I had seen construction workers finishing their job before their deadline.
The noise seemed to be much friendlier that day. To my ears, it sounded now more like Santa Claus’ busy workshop than a devil’s orchestra. (…)
(…) The painting I had made was very simple: out of a cloudy, red and dark blue background, figures were coming to life. They were drawn with a golden line, like a thread in a fabric, that created a design of contours and shapes. Several men and women, each outlined and joined with the others by the “thread”.
I looked at the finished painting and smiled. It reminded me of all the recent events when I had learned that there was a connection between the people I met and myself. I realized that if I had erased that line, “pulled out the golden thread” from the “fabric” of the background — there wouldn’t be much left of the painting at all. Just the red and dark blue clumps of color that had clotted here and there, seemingly with no purpose at all.
I hung the painting in the living room and kept observing it for several days, so that it would “tell me” what kind of a frame it wanted to have. I had always felt that paintings, in a way, “chose” their own frames. But this one seemed hopelessly indecisive.