July 29, 2017
I have had most of my stuff in storage for years. When I moved to my new place a few months ago I finally took it out. I have casually started sifting through it since then and finding things I forgot I had. This painting that Cooper had done of me 9 years ago was one of those things.
He painted it in 2008 when I was at the height of my first round triathlon stuff. (The second round was a short intense burst at the end of 2015) I had definitely forgotten all about it. Tonight I finally hung it on my wall. When I did I stared at it for awhile. I think it was the first time I really looked at it as a part of my home.
While I was standing there I started getting flooded with so many images. Year’s worth of glimpses in a moment. All of them seemed to funnel down into a short couple main thoughts though.
I saw simple things like when Cooper came to visit The Brokedown Palace – West (My super tiny little cabin in Queens Bay) and casually painted a little chicken while we were hangin’ out.
I also saw times like when I house sat for him, and had to meander through the paths weaving in and out of the 7 zillion paintings all over his house. There was the night when I was sittin’ on the top bunk of one of the beds eatin’ sushi and his cat, Fleece, tried to join me. She jump up, but totally missed the bed. I was laughin’ my ass off at her as she was scrambling to grab onto anything on her way to the ground. She stuck her paws out rapidly like she was punching something. Finally, in that split second, she latched onto something. The thing that she latched onto was my foot hanging over the edge of the bed.
Fleece sunk a single claw in my foot. Her falling momentum made that claw stick in deep. The stop in her fall caused her to swing back and forth as she dangled there regaining her composure. Once she got it together she started pulling up. Her claw was going deeper. I felt her other claws start sinking in nice and tight too. I was laughin’ ‘cause it was hilarious to me, but it hurt like fuck, and I told her so.
Next thing I knew, I felt her other paw dig in as she gained her climbing momentum. The freakin’ kitty-kat couldn’t care less about me, she just climbed up me all casually, and then had the nerve to curl up right beside me and start purring like it ain’t no thing! In a way I cursed her out, but I also had a certain respect for that. I laughed, gave her some lovin’, and then went back to eatin’ my sushi…offering her the odd kernel of rice. She was a cute lil' bastid. :)
I see Cooper’s paintings all over town, and they always make me smile when I do. It’s always easy to see images like these when I come across one. Staring into this painting, when I hung it up, I had the deepest sense of that Cooper imagery fill me up.
The thoughts like Fleece or the chicken painting both stemming from a single thought about Cooper are what I meant by the several thoughts funneling into a simple couple of things. The other thing was the person I saw in the painting.
Looking at the person in the painting created a weird mix of emotion because as I stood there looking at it I barely recognized who that was. Of course it was me, but although true, it wouldn’t be entirely accurate if I said it felt like a different lifetime ago. It didn’t feel like me.
I can look at any photo from my Grateful Dead or Fat Cats days and know that shit is always there. It’s not goin’ anywhere. I’ll never not be that person. This painting is different though. That feels off to me.
The strange thing is, it is of me combining two things I love to do…one being engrained into my soul as the deepest longest, most passionate love of my life: Sport. The other is somehow finding a way to do something good for more than just myself. I learned that from the guys in the Grateful Dead, as well as so, so many of the great people who toured to as many shows as they could like I did.
For those who don’t know, or can’t imagine, that scene was about a lot more than just music. Being surrounded by people who really genuinely gave a shit about doing some good for the people and places around them was something I have always felt very fortunate to be a part of.
Despite trying to find ways to do something good whenever I can, sometimes even blowing my own mind with the shit I have pulled off, it all feels so distant to who I have become now. It upsets me a lot. I know I have better. I’ve said this before…it is nothing new. The depths that it permeates me though are to the point that when I look at this painting I rarely feel like I deserve to. It feels like I have lost the right to look at it, and have not earned that back. It torments me. (I feel even stronger about all the letters I got from the kids in Brandie’s school…I’ve barely ever been able look at those.)
Maybe I have pulled off some epic shit the way people have told me, maybe I haven’t, but for the way my life has unfolded since this was painted all I can see are these happy memories of Cooper, as well as everything I could have been but have fallen short of.
The thing about it all is that I haven’t given up on myself just yet. Yes, I admit I’ve teetered on the brink a few times, but I’m still here, and while I am I still have the belief that I have something special, and I want nothing more than to nourish that.
The person in this painting was on that path of creating something real special for many people around him. He was touching lives and reaching people’s hearts in places he had never been. Every day was an overwhelm of emotion because he was just a simple guy living a simple life, but the things he did and the dreams that he had created these ripples that he didn’t know how to understand.
What he did understand is that he knew he was walking the right path for himself. That all seems so faded now. Knocked back on his heels, and trying to find his balance so perhaps he can start clawing his way forward again.
I’m discovering that this painting Cooper made for me really stirs some things up. I want to hope it will inspire me to try to find that place within myself again. Right now it just makes me feel inferior to myself for not nourishing the potential I know I have inside.
Not bringing out the best I know I have makes me feel horrible. It’s a toxic tormenting feeling. I know I’m the only one who has the power to change that, but it just seems so far away in a different time from a different life.
Having this painting on my wall is gonna remind me of that all the time every day. I know I can use it to motivate me to recapture a new version of that person, but right now the weight of the torment side of things seems to heavy for that version to step out from under.
I’m thinking of taking it down to save me the constant mind-fuck, but then I start wondering if I deserve that torment and the painting is there to teach me some lessons about myself that I don’t see or lessons I simply need to learn.
Thinking about that I do find myself a bit impatient because I want that weight lifted as it is crushing. I have, however, learned a long time ago that I cannot go chasing answers I seek to questions I may not even know I have. The answers I need will only come in the right way in the right time, most often in a way I never would have imagined.
Right now I feel caught in that void swimming in my own torment waiting for answers I can’t go looking for. I just have to trust I am awake enough to see what’s in front of me when it presents itself. I can be pretty good at that, so there is some encouragement there that can be built upon.
That brings up this cliché: Only time will tell!
It might seem odd that this painting speaks to me in this way, but it is the only thing it has said to me in for a long time. I just hope someday I can live up to my own expectations for myself. Saying that though I also kinda hope that never comes true because I don’t like the thought of complacency. I like believing in the concept of always being able to find something more in oneself…surprising yourself with what you can do. That’s a good feeling.
Thanks for the painting Cooper…spins me down quite a trip.
Stuff Writin' About Kinda Guy
I am a simple guy who likes to dream of the impossible and go after it. I have found fun in writing about my journey as well as other things that inspire me too.