When we set out to sketch, we typically draw the positive shapes we see before us…leaves, stems, vase or planter. This is normal and natural and we do well to follow the contours of these things. But we can also look for, and draw, the negative shapes, the space in between all the positive shapes. In doing so, we learn more about the relationships of the positive shapes to one another, and how the in-between stuff informs the overall picture. We can even make an entire drawing of only the negative shapes, thus rendering them as the positive shapes.
Life also allows us opportunities to see negative shapes as positive. Our days are usually filled with the stuff that occupies our time: spouse, kids, work, family, friends, hobbies, etc. Every now and then something we view as negative comes along…health issues, strained relationships, loss of a job, surgery. Our tendency may be to try and skip over these, gut through them to get on the other side of living with our positive shapes. But we will miss something if don’t have eyes to peer into the picture of our lives and really study those negative spaces.
I’ve been eyeing a plant given to me back in June when I had surgery #2 in the saga of Ulcerative Colitis. As I eat breakfast and lunch at our small table, I’ve been staring at the large mass of greenery broken only by the negative shapes in between all the leaves and stems. One day recently, as I peered inside these shapes, I realized my youngest daughter was on the other side and I could see her lovely face through the foliage. Had I only looked at the plant, I would have missed the real beauty that sat just on the other side.
I’m going in this week for a third and hopefully final surgery to resolve issues that have been plaguing me since June. I so want to get it over with, be on the other side of it to heal up quickly and get back to my life. But I’m reminded that I want to view this negative shape as a positive one…to really peer into it and see what beauty lies inside for me. I know it’s there. I just have to train my eyes to see what’s in-between.
This isn’t an attempt to put a plastic smile on what will be painful, lengthy, and have enduring realities to live with. It stems from a desire to embrace all of life as a gift– something which is given to strengthen and shape me. And even something which will, at some point, catch my breath with the beauty I’ll see in the negative. Perhaps, at the end of our lives, looking back down the corridor of our days, it will be these negative shapes that are seen as the positive ones…the ones which stand out in our memories as places of deep meaning and richness.
My pen is ready and my eyes are peeled. Bring it on.
*Note: I have a few lighthearted posts ready to go out to you from the hospital and days recuperating at home. I hope you’ll return throughout this busy holiday season. I so appreciate each of my readers here on Drawn2Life!!