A quiet roar of leaves rattling through thousands of wilderness acres fills the distant air as the lapping water nudges the rocks on the shore by the barely moving lake. A nearby spring-born loon proudly calls out, knowing she is near ready to fly toward the Southern border within weeks as the brisk air turns to ice. A close gathering of loon relatives loudly encourages her as she flops and flutters a Sunday-morning experimental flight.
Glistening deep yellow sun reflects like dancing elves, sparkling and shimmering atop the surface of the water. Black lace; pine tree needles in silhouette frame the scene I love so dearly as I leave my warm little cabin to venture into the chilled air to visit the 140-year-old octagon-shaped porch on the lake. Filled with the sounds of beeping birds, fluttering squirrels, and the tapping little feet of field mice.
Yellow lupines and goldenrod spring up to signal fall as the dappled light makes the apples in the tree behind the kitchen glow orange. Deeply I breathe in the crisp fall air, knowing we’ll soon have to leave this unheated paradise once colder weather hits. I’m rolling the dice that I’ll see enough fall color saturate the mountain in leaves of red before we turn the key on our drive back to Texas.
Fall, my favorite season, is something we’ve never experienced on this little Adirondack island, and barely experienced here in the past. Maybe once, before the kids started school. The call of the school year has always required our return to Austin, but now we’re staying on to experience the fall, along with our newfound roles as empty nesters who are not quite sure how to handle this newly discovered thing called silence.
Memories of my first visit to this million-acre protected park remind me that I was uneasy about coming to this place as our family sold our Lake Wawasee place in Indiana after three generations. I thought that was my favorite place, our summer escape. But rather than resting on tradition alone, my father, troubled by loud Jet Skis and racing boats and fumes of fuel, responded to the movie On Golden Pond, realizing there were still places that remained quiet, without the noise and pollution — much like Wawasee was when our family first settled there. I resisted the breaking of tradition. I didn’t want to leave there to come here, and I was determined not to like it. But by the end of a week here, I discovered something about this place, and about my own heart, that resulted in my never wanting to leave. Summers on this lake have blessed me since 1989.
Cozy, and Stuck
The lesson for me was that I was comfortable and resting on something that was good, but not as good as it once was, and for me never as good as when my great-grandfather fished that motorless lake. I was obstinate, unwilling to leave, determined not to accept the change made by my father — who was selling it hard because he knew we would fall in love as he had. In short, I was cozy and stuck in my ways.
Human nature prevails when comfort sets in. I’m reminded of a cartoon my late friend Courtney Thompson sent me decades ago: a picture of a general whose men are in battle with antiquated weapons. A man is there selling Gatling guns (early machine guns), and the general says, “I don’t have time to see a salesman. Can’t you see I’m in a battle?” The idea is that he was too preoccupied to look at something that would have given him an advantage and allowed him to end the battle much more quickly.
We are a resistant bunch, we human beings. We get stuck. We do things because that’s the way they have always been done. That’s what we think, or believe, because it’s what our fathers and mothers believed, it’s what our grandparents, great-grandparents, and their forefathers believed. All too often we fail to think for ourselves. And if someone were to bring documented proof that what we believe is wrong, we’d still resist it. I’ve often wondered whether, if someone brought indisputable, documented proof that my biblical beliefs were untrue, I’d be able to shift the thinking I’ve spent my life believing.
This COVID-crazed time, this time of unrest and turmoil, this time of information and misinformation, censorship of social media, confusing and conflicting data that can bring distrust of any new information, has helped me realize how easily we comply with suggestions if they’re in the name of safety. This has helped me realize just how fragile our freedom can be. I’m finding my brain scrambling to understand what and who to believe anymore.
What about you?
The good news is that I’m forced to challenge my beliefs, I’m forced to explore other outlooks and opinions, and I no longer trust any of the voices I once relied upon. I can’t believe a single tweet or video that is stated as fact, and I can’t even trust the fact-checkers. It seems everyone has an agenda to sway me one way or another.
I have to think for myself.
I have to challenge everything I’ve believed in the past.
I have to accept that I might have been wrong, or that others I used to believe can no longer hold my trust.
There is a tectonic shift taking place in this world, right before our eyes.
Follow the Incentives
We can no longer sit in comfort and accept what is happening to us. We have to use the brains we’ve been given, and we have to ask “Why?” with every word we read. We have to follow the incentives, follow the money, follow the purpose of every word and statement thrown our way.
It’s uncomfortable, and I’d rather be comfortable, yet we cannot allow our comfort to blind us or we’ll never be comfortable again.
I’m just guessing, but I feel as though things will be seen that we won’t want to believe. We’ll need to decipher, decode, and think for ourselves rather than rely on the comfortable past of our former selves, our family ways of doing things, and maybe even history itself.
Disruption Means Challenge
Like it or not, 2020 has disrupted us. Much like my father dragging us to a place we didn’t think we wanted to go, this disruption will make us challenge every thought and belief we’ve ever had. It’s frightening, but then again, change always is. Yet it’s change that improves life. It is discomfort that creates new levels of comfort, and hard times that make us stronger and better.
And … it’s a time when my faith is amplified as the only thing I can trust.
Every generation in the past has had something… the Great Depression, great wars and conflicts, plagues, civil unrest, and disease. We’re getting our chance to experience a special time in our lives, a time we will share with our grandkids, a time that will enter the history books. It may not be what we would choose, but we should embrace it for the ways we will be reborn.
This may seem like a time to fear. It may seem that the things happening will never end, that life will never be good again, that things might get worse. I can’t trust in man, I can only trust in God, and trust that we’ve been given the ability to think and make decisions for ourselves for a reason.
Like Your Life Depends on It
This will pass, and life will be good again. But it will be different, which is why your willingness to think and ask yourself who and what you believe, is more important than ever. Think like your life depended on it. Use your own brain, be willing to consider differing opinions, be willing to ask yourself why something is true, why you should believe it, what needs to be seen that’s not clearly visible. Ask yourself if you’re stuck or blindly following the way things have always been.
Change what you can change. Speak up about what you see to help others — like me — see a new perspective. You may end up being the one voice they can trust. And know that a freight train of change, of obtuse ideas, of hard-to-believe truths may be put before you that could change something you’ve believed for your entire life.
A Time for Questioning
This isn’t a time for comfort, it’s a time for critical thinking, for questioning everything we believe, for questioning everything others tell us and questioning who we trust to load our brains. It’s also not a time to seek reinforcement of what we already believe, but a time to deeply question ourselves and what we are clinging to from our past..
Answers always lie in our questions.
PS: For 179 days, no days off, I’ve been on social media at noon Eastern, with one single intention … to keep your head in the game. What that means is that I am trying to offer a distraction from the virus and the things causing us to fear. As they say on the airlines, put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. You and I cannot be there for our families and friends if our anxiety is at its peak, if our fear is consuming us, if our immune system is compromised by stress. My daily presence is designed to remind you to breathe, to do things for yourself, to do things that are fun, even though you may feel guilty about having fun. I want you to feed your soul, feed your mind, and feed your body with the good things that will keep you strong and balanced.
I have to avoid the news, I have to avoid doom scrolling, and I have to avoid negative people on social media or in person. I don’t put my head in the sand, but I refuse to fill my brain with hours and hours of negativity. Stress is the number one cause of cancer, of heart disease, and of all disease. You have to protect yourself by getting exercise, eating great food, and avoiding things that depress you, meaning negative information and negative substances. That’s why I’ve opened the vaults and am giving you what I normally charge for each day at noon and three — to help others have a positive distraction, something that some find fun. And if we’re learning, growing, and having fun, we’re strengthening our ability to get through anything placed before us. And we will think more clearly because we’re exercising our brains to discover new things. I’m only offering art. That may not be for you, but find something your heart needs to fill your soul with joy.
In an effort not only to try to save my business, but to help others have a few days of complete escape and a flood of training, I’ve created some live virtual events to teach art to anyone who wants to learn. I’ve leveraged my lifetime of contacts to get the best of the best to teach drawing, painting, and various forms of art, including landscape, plein air, portrait, figure, still life, flowers, and more. It’s the first conference of its kind online, and we have already had about 1,200 people sign up from over 30 countries. It’s going to be monumental. Learn more about it at RealismLive.com.
If you like art and are curious, it’s not a lot of money. The last one I did, a woman attending said she got a four-year art education in five days. She said it was better than art school. Now I can’t make that claim, but you can find out for yourself (or forward this to friends you think might like to learn art). I do have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you attend, but don’t like it by the end of day one, let us know. We will refund 100% of your money, and you will have received day one for free.
Being slightly disabled, I have not been able to attend any of your inspiring events over the years UNTIL NOW!!! I can’t tell you how exciting Plein Air LIve was for me and, in advance, how exciting Realism Live will be. For me the COVID crisis has been a blessing in disguise. . . so far. That is, if I can keep hiding out from the virus. For others I know it has been a nightmare, and I feel deeply for them. Your mission to keep us distracted and inspired has been accomplished! I have had a lifetime of learning in just a few months.
Eric: I could not sleep — it’s 3AM here in Syracuse, NY — and decided I needed to read this weeks Sunday Coffee. I have read other Sunday Coffee articles that you have written but this one is truly OUTSTANDING! I know thousands of people follow you and for good reason. Just like your Dad and Grandfather you are grounded in the goodness of your fellow man. I was at the 2018 Publisher’s Invitational at Paul Smiths College and had a sense then that you do what you do not for the money or for others to hold you in high esteem but for the joy that you bring to so many through art — and not just a specific event — but because it feeds your soul and the souls of all whom you touch. I could not make the 2019 Publishers Invitational because I was recovering from major shoulder surgery… and of course 2020 has all such events in a tailspin. But you Eric are a treasure and through your Sunday Coffee series are getting those who want to lean and listen real substance to reflect on as we live our lives. You are a blessing to me… THANK YOU and Warm Regards, Dave
What a wonderful human being and what an inspiring soul you truly are, Eric Rhoads! I so enjoy reading your poetic and contemplative Sunday Coffee emails. And I just wanted to thank you for all that you offer and share 🙂
So thankful I zoomed with National Society of Artists meeting if only to learn about your offerings. A breath of fresh….air…inspiration…motivation!
Another great Sunday Coffee, Eric! Enjoy your empty nest time and Fall color changes at your cabin on the lake. Paint every day and enjoy the peace and quiet you so deserve. After all, not everyone gets to send triplets off to college!
Your daily artists’ videos saved me during the depressing Covid homebound days, weeks, months. I fed my brain, my soul and I eventually got back to painting. Art therapy personified!
Thank you for writing such insightful articles every Sunday. Sure beats reading the news!
Thank you for all of the daily demos, your podcasts, Sunday Coffee and especially for Plein air live. So looking forward to Realism Live…..please don’t retire, EVER
Thank you Eric. Your Sunday chats are always thoughtful and inspirational. I am restricted a lot by my autoimmune issues and your daily sessions have been a lifesaver to me whilst I have been forced to stay at home. Especially not been able to attend my weekly art class which is generally my one reliable point of contact with other people as I live in a rural area. I have learnt so much from your guest artists and videos (and even purchased some that I found useful) and my painting has improved so much. I wait every morning to see what new things I can learn from that day’s session and how I might use it in my painting. I really enjoy Cesar Santos as he makes everything fun and easy to understand. Bill Schneider who was on today is also great and Johnnie Lilliedahl is just a fabulous teacher. Thank you again to you and all your team.
As in the past, your “morning coffee” is wonderful…a sweet and tender gift you give to ALL! Thank you! In my smaller world, I also do the same, with those willing to listen! God bless! Perhaps we shall meet, sometime down the road!
Well written again…walking a tightrope. It is difficult to maintain balance when all is wiggling the rope you stand on. Even in this comment section- everything from telling you who to vote for to misrepresenting your opinion of the pandemic. (Smh) Forget all else and look forward…if you look down, you will falter. Keep up the good work
hello Mr.Eric. I thank you very much for having these artists showing the things that they each one have learned to all that watch them. Thanking each one too. Thank you for SUNDAY COFFEE. iit is a joy of what God is during and can do in each one of own life. My husband die in Dece. 2019. I am learning too. this has made my day (each day) thank you for doing this and the other artists. thanks Iva texas
For Eric Only: It would be so great if you didn’t vote for Trump! I’ll hope that you don’t.
Thanks for all you do, Eric! I enjoy picturing the Adirondacks with you,
Sincerely and With good wishes, Janet
Thank you for everything you do Eric. I’ve watched about 25 of your video demos. I’ve learned so much but as usual when my brain is in overload, I had trouble with a recent painting. I wasn’t happy with the original effort which I previously would have viewed as “acceptable”. Instead, I went through 4 or 5 major agonizing revisions before I finally accepted the composition as final. I am so happy I gave in to my new more critical eye. It is good painting now and I love my title, “A River Runs Thru It”.
Thank you for everything you do Eric. I’ve watched about 25 of your video demos. I’ve learned so much but as usual when my brain is in overload, I had trouble with a recent painting. I wasn’t happy with the original effort which I previously would have viewed as “acceptable”. Instead, I went through 4 or 5 major agonizing revisions before I finally accepted the composition as final. I am so happy I gave in to my new more critical eye. It is good painting now.
This was much needed today. Thank you. I admire your integrity and willingness to look and think for yourself. It takes courage. I greatly enjoyed Plein Air Live and am very much looking forward to Realism Live. As a mother with four young kids at home, my art often has to take the back seat. But between the content you’ve been making available daily and the conventions, I’ve been able to feel connected and stay inspired. It has been invaluable. You have my gratitude and support.
I went to Herron Art School in 1967 to 1971 in graphic arts and painting classes what a time it was. I started out painting water colors with Joe Wrobel, out of South Bend at 12 years old, so I got to see and understand the power of Art. I got into Plein Air painting from my brother in law, who also attended Joe Wrobel watercolor class and then went on to attend the Chicago Art Institute as a painter. My brother in law just had to step outside his front door to paint rural Indiana. He now paints off the coast of Naples FL. I opened a small one man print shop in Bremen, just north west of Wawasee. And yes what a beautiful lake it is. Lately my printing has slowly fading away as everybody is their own printer anymore with computers in every home. My printing is basically for the Amish businesses in the area. Thank G-d for the Amish.
I’ve keep up with painting through these many years, more as a service to some faithful customers. I had the opportunity to paint the doors on a couple stagecoaches an Amish maple syrup customer had built. That was a treat. In the Air Force in the early 70’s I got an opportunity to help change a program with my artwork abilities using cartoons and lots of color. It turned out to be very successful as it was a gamble on their part to take me at my word. The General of the Air Force base likes what he saw and said do it. The Air Force career was short lived as they ended the War in Vietnam and said they had to many Officers, and anybody who wanted out could get out. I said I have an art career back in Indiana and they said have a nice life.
So your helping me every day at noon as I watch daily and take notes from some of your fantastically talented guests. And I look forward to my issue of Plein Air Magazine to see what others are doing out on the open road with their paints. You are a mental life saver in these times of Covid for sure. The hand of G-d is truly on or heart and mind as you step forward for the sake of mankind. Be Blessed Eric as you are in my prayers for a rich and fulfilling life.
As always, over the past several months, you have worked your way into my heart. This Sunday you have out d0ne yourself with a very moving, insightful and heartwarming piece. Thank you for being there for all of us who enjoy and need your outlet every day. I am grateful.
This is my first Coffee with you. Your words made my day. I’m so glad I’m a subscriber now. I love watching the videos and I’m getting really inspired. I’ve worked as a graphic designer for over 40 years and I’m still working. I’ll be retiring in 2 years and with your inspiration and encouragement I’m looking forward to setting up a studio and painting for the rest of my life. I’ve subscribed to Plein Air magazine and look forward to my first issue. I always tell people my head is not in the sand, its in the clouds. Because its a lovely view from there. You can choose a joyful life or a suffering life. Why not choose JOY. You can quote me if you want.
Eric you inspire the good in life and I appreciate you and your very wise comments each Sunday.
Well said and all the best. You’re uplifting so many with your daily messages and videos. God Bless you for uplifting so many.
Art changes lives- we’re blessed
Brilliant and beautifully spoken!
Thank you always Eric!
More food for thought. It goes against the grain to be mistrusting and to be challenging everything we hear, yet even without Covid, we live in difficult and challenging times with everyone seemingly pulling in different directions. To me people in public life seem these days to have their own agenda and do not appear to be working for the common good of all. Personally I long for a time where we all pull together and cooperate for the sake of our society in the interest of the common good.
I think as well a challenges there is a big opportunity for us to change old habits and do things differently that will improve and benefitted world we live in. From an environmental perspective we can no longer keep taking scarce resources with out putting something back. We have to learn to live a more sustainable life which harms the environment less and makes much better use of the resources we already have. We have a golden opportunity to do this before we cause irreparable damage to our homes and write ourselves out the history books.
If only our industrialists could see that by diversifying into more sustainable industries they could re direct wealth as well as create employment. I just hope we seize this opportunity to make the world a better place that we are currently guardians of for ourselves and for our environment.
Thank you, Eric, for your “Fear Not” message this morning. It has made me think more about what our future holds. It is a frightening time now. But it is also the time to think for ourselves, instead of believing what we are told to believe. I refused to stay locked down. It is not healthy to remain isolated for many reasons. Instead I take precautions and have been able to enjoy plein air painting trips as well as continuing to work daily. It can be done!
Thank you for the daily noon messages and introductions to important artists. The videos have been helpful and I have purchased several as well as your marketing boot camp. I am very grateful for what you do … it is helping me along the road to becoming a professional artist. I have a plan and am executing it. Thank YOU!
interesting article, THINK FOR YOURSELF, In New Zealand house prices are going higher against all predictions of doom and gloom. houses going to auction are being sold on pre auction offers. The restaurant bussiness are struggling due to social distancing, many have shut, Tourism is only reliant on locals as our borders are closed to overseas vistors, many folk are out of work yet there is a boom going on. What is driving this banks have very low returns of interest so those with money are spending , New Zealand is considered a safe haven so many citzens with New Zealand passports are returning home. Trying to understand this a bit more I got in touch with someone who was a bit more educated on these matters and he said he new someone who predicted 911 before it happened as they followed shares and before that awful advent overseas investors in America were off loading their shares for no particular reason. For an artist who aim is self improvement Eric Rhoads has been an blessing opening up artist studios for the world to see and streamline videos with extra lenght instructional previews has made it easier to decide which to buy and put on ones bucket list in the future all this may not have happened without Covid 19. Eric Rhodes has earnt my trust thanks
Thank for your words as usual! It’s been awhile sense I have read Sunday coffee. I will return to your incredible words of wisdom. For it has provided me with nourishment for the Spirit. A wisdom that provides comfort and solace, for such a time as this, where things seems to be spinning out of control.
This discourse has given me hope. As an artist it is difficult to create in a vacuum at times even with virtual classes, I miss being face to face, nuances that facilitates clarity the essence of a thing. Thank you and may God Bless you and your family!
I love your letter this morning.
I started my morning with a ‘our father prayer’ and a few words and thoughts about my world and my questions.
then in the still morning silence of a empty house with my four legged companion I heard the melody of email from my iPad laying next to me. “Okay Lord what do you have to say?”
My eyes landed on your Sunday Coffee and “Fear not” my repeatedly assured comment to many elderly friends for some time during trying days.
So, You have sent, my own words returning back onto me, ten fold, blessed assurance, thank You and God bless you.
Again Thank you
Amazing article. You not only are gifted in art , but in writing. Your a brilliant man, and i cant thank you enough for this article. I’m one of the depressed artist your article mentions. On medication and have not painted since March nor have the willingness to. My passion for art at this time “asleep” in my mind. Depression robs you of desire and creativity. I can only hope with Gods help my great desire will awake. Thank you for Sunday Coffee emails and articles. You save many lives, hearts and minds.
Once again, a wonderful article. This was one I really needed in these days of stress. Thank you for your inspiration, Eric. I look forward to RealismLive.
In addition to all that I’ll learn watching all the demos, I really want to thank you for being there every single day for oh so many days, always cheerful and full of enthusiasm and encouragement, so I registered for the RealismLive event and even the Beginner’s Day! I hope this will be the beginning of a change from sculptor to painter for me. Something I’ve been trying to do for many years! As an aside, I quit buying green bananas a couple of years ago but today I feel optimistic!
History lessons are helpful in difficult times! As I read this morning I was reminded of of several things. First, as I finish reading Zachariah, I read that God is in control and he will be victorious! Second, as I read your words I was reminded of The Reformers, who stood for truth against a corrupt Church of Rome at the peril of their lives! Their motto became ‘Scripture Only’. That is the only truth we can trust. In that faith we find strength, peace and complete love of the Father. Fear is put to shame! In John 14 Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” Simple yet profound!
Life can then be freed from fear and the control of others! Wonderful!
Great reading, Eric. Yes, it is a time of reconsidering who and what we can trust, for certain. I thank God for my faith and foundation in Him. He will lead us and guide us and we can trust Him. After all, He loved us enough to send Jesus to take our place on the cross. I appreciate your words, and your efforts to relieve the stress this current world of events presents us with on a daily basis. Your advise is well worth heeding. I have taken advantage of many of the daily videos on Facebook and YouTube. Thank you. I have even purchased two or three of them. I lost count. God bless you and keep on being a beacon on the hill.
Thanks, Eric, for this “issue” of Sunday Coffee. It lifted my spirits, and was beautifully written. And thank you for sharing your time and thoughts. I’m sure Realism Live will be a huge success. PleinAir Live was the highlight of my summer.
So you think following the rules in favor of safety have been misleading? If you have facts to prove otherwise please share as many of us are living in isolation waiting for COVID to pass.