Perky little yellow wildflowers are showing their faces in the bright morning sun. Greens are bright and happy after last night’s bucket brigade of nourishment. My symphony of birdsongs is performing from all directions, as if to say, “It’s spring!”

Not all of life is about birdsong. Sometimes it’s the deadly squawk of a vulture. Horrible, unpleasant things happen to us.

Loss of Love

Looking back on my life, I’ve fallen in love many times, and every time a breakup occurred, I’d be devastated for months, sometimes years. I fall in love deeply, and when it ends, it hits me hard. I feel battered and bruised, as if my parachute didn’t open and I slammed into the ground at the speed of light. But sometimes you have to be pushed or jump out of the plane.

Frequent Failure Miles

I can count the failures, too. I can clearly remember the day my bookkeeper came into my office to tell me, “Eric, you’ll be bankrupt in three weeks.” There was no way out. So I did what any self-respecting businessman would do. I went into my office, laid on the couch in a fetal position, and wept.  I could not see beyond the dark cloud. The business I had been working on for years was out of money.

When I think about the breakups, the failures, the heartbreaks, the failed attempts, and the moments when everything seemed so hopeless, I actually get a physical response — shivers in my shoulders as my head is pushed forward.

Not-So-Comforting Advice

I can also think of all the advice everyone would give me. None of it was very valuable or comforting when I was consumed with the flames and black smoke of worry. How could they possibly know what I’m feeling or going through?

Good Terror

Yet, as I take an inventory of my life, I’m grateful for those moments of terror. I’m grateful for four recessions. I am grateful for losing all my money. I’m grateful for losing a marriage. I’m grateful for every bad thing that ever happened to me.

It’s easy to say it now, looking back. At the moment, it’s not so easy, because we can’t yet see the lessons to come. But they always come.

Grateful for COVID-19

I know this is going to sound awful, but I’m grateful for the coronavirus. Though it has been devastating, has resulted in deaths and financial ruin for much of the world, I’m grateful because it’s making us stronger, it’s forcing us to be more creative, it’s making us consider alternatives we never before would have considered. I dare say it’s even going to make us more prosperous, even though it’s wiped out many of us financially.

Unexpected Response

Every couple of days I’ll get a text from someone: “How are you holding up?” And my response is “terrific” or “fantastic.” These people know my business has crumbled and is barely standing, like the Parthenon, and they expect me to be down. But the good news is that it’s still standing — and the Parthenon is the most visited tourist attraction in Greece. It’s an attraction because it crumbled and was once magnificent, and it stands for what once was, and what could be.

A Big Dark Bag

Yes, I’m wounded, yes, I’m concerned, but my family is alive and healthy, and this forced time together has brought us closer. And the need to take action and find some way to pay some of the bills has forced me and others on my team to reach deep into the bottom of a big dark bag and pull out creative solutions that will end up being fresh, new solutions to old problems.

On this day of resurrection, let us not cling to the bad. Let us cling to the hope, the new life that comes from the destruction of the old.

The End of the Storm

I’m convinced that as we awaken today, new hope will be revealed within each of us. I believe the world will see a resurrection. A giant dark storm has covered the world, and a fresh new morning of bright, shining light will make this world better, make us more loving, kinder, and more aware of the encouraging things we’ve discovered about ourselves and each other.

Sometimes we need to be slapped in the face, kicked in the stomach, and thrown to the ground to realize that something needs to change, and that it would never have occurred without the pain.

Operating on Fear

I refuse to cling to the dark side of the story. I’m sad about it, but I refuse to be controlled by it. And I’m not going to buy into the fear and believe for a moment that this is going to continue for weeks, months, or decades. Nothing will drag me out of the comfortable pool of optimism. I refuse to dip into the stormy sea of doubt and fear. I’ll deal with the reality of each day, and reject any predictions of a future no one on earth can predict with accuracy. As my therapist friend says, “Only worry about the next 15 minutes. You can’t control much more than that. Why torture yourself?”

Your Assignment

I’m going to ask you to do something today. I never ask anything of you. But today, it’s a big ask. I want you to go deep into your mind, reach in, and yank the dark poison out of your head, and spend today … just today … believing in a resurrection from this situation, believing in hope, and keeping your head out of the poison. And, after today, if it felt good, add just one more day, then another.

Can we manifest ourselves out of this difficult time? Maybe, maybe not, but having a full day of peace and no worry is better than a day of worry and angst.

You and I are under observation. Our families, our communities, our friends, our colleagues are watching us, how we respond, and the leadership we can provide. Everyone is looking for hope. Maybe you can provide it, giving them a much-needed day of peace.

Unintentional Purpose

I spoke to my dear old friend Lisa on Thursday and she said, “Eric, I needed this. You’ve lifted my spirit and pulled my head out of my fear.” She was in a black vortex, spinning down into a hopeless dark place. I don’t know why I called her, I did not know she needed to be lifted, and honestly, I didn’t even do it intentionally. But that’s why thoughts come into our minds to connect with others. We have purpose.

The Tale of Rescue

There is an old story, one you’ve no doubt heard before. A man was stuck on his rooftop praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and offered to rescue him. “No, thank you, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me,” the stranded man said. Then a motorboat came by and offered. “No, thank you, God is going to save me.” Then a helicopter came and the pilot said “Grab the rope.” But the stranded man said, “God is going to save me.” Soon the flood waters rose, and the man drowned. And when he entered Heaven and met God, he said, “God, why didn’t you save me? I had faith in you but you let me drown. I don’t understand why.” And God replied, “I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter. What more did you expect?”

In the Foxhole Together

There is an old saying that “There are no atheists in foxholes” — not in the middle of a war when bullets are flying around your head. You, me, and the world are in the foxhole together. We have to save one another. And we need to be tuned in to grab the lessons this is providing us and the help placed in front of us that we’re simply too blind to see. To everything, there is a purpose. Don’t wait for it, look for it.

And remember: The comeback is going to be greater than the setback.

Stay strong. Stay calm. Breathe deeply. It may feel dark, but the sun always comes up. Look for the resurrection.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I thought staying at home would give me more time to do the things I’ve been wanting to do. Though there has been a little of that, me and the remaining crew have been putting in 12-hour days so we can keep you engaged, informed, distracted, and entertained. Since this began we’ve created and published 21 art instruction segments, at least 21 hours of content. Plus we’ve conducted interviews with experts to help you. Below, I’m listing all the things we’re offering, in hopes you can make good use of them. 

Use this time to grow, learn new things, challenge yourself, and make yourself better. 

Here is a sample of the current issue of PleinAir magazine for your enjoyment: click here. If you like it, we’re offering a 30% discount now! You can subscribe here.

I also go live every day at noon Eastern on my Eric Rhoads Facebook page, which you can follow. (Sorry, no friend slots available.) 

Important for everyone to watch: 

3.23.20 –  Bryan Mark Taylor The Master’s Mind
3.24.20 – Johanne Mangi The Fine Art of Painting Dog Portraits
3.25.20 –  Joseph McGurl Painting Light & Atmosphere
3.26.20 – Cesar Santos Secrets of Figure Drawing
3.27.20 –  Michelle Byrne Palette Knife Painting  
3.28.20 – Michael Mentler Figure Drawing in the Renaissance Tradition
3.29.20 –  Shelby Keefe Painting From Photographs
3.30.20 –  Daniel Graves Old World Portraiture   
3.31.20 –  Kathy Anderson How to Paint Flowers in the Studio 
4.1.20   John MacDonald Creating Dynamic Landscapes   
4.2.20 – Lori Putnam Bold Brushstrokes and Confident Color  
4.3.20 – Cesar Santos Secrets of Figure Painting    
4.4.20 – Erik Koeppel Techniques of the Hudson River School Masters 2
4.5.20 – Juliette Aristides Secrets of Classical Painting   
4.6.20 – Thomas Jefferson Kitts Sorolla: Painting the Color of Light
4.7.20 – Gregory Mortenson Realistic Self Portraits
4.8.20 – Bill Davidson “Landscape Painting Secrets”
4.9.20 – Stephanie Birdsall “Lemons & Leaves”
4.10.20 – Huihan Liu “Expressive Figure Painting”