I never thought of myself as a Texan after we moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Austin, Texas.
Austin, after all, isn’t completely “Texas.” It’s San Francisco inside of Texas, it’s Silicon Valley inside Texas, and even a little slice of Manhattan. Not a lot of cowboy hats and horses visible in this booming metro area.
Yet this morning on the deck feels very Texas.
Life in Texas
The buzzing sound of cicadas in the sage-colored live oak trees around me is almost deafening this morning as I sit on my long wooden back deck, which runs the entire length of the house. It’s almost as if these singing cicadas are trying to harmonize with the whining of the air conditioner unit, which is barely able to keep up with the heat.
The early morning sun is beating hard on the deck, and I’ve moved to a chair in the one small corner of shade that is allowing me to stay outside and bear the heat. I’m wearing my PleinAir baseball cap, and shades to cope with the glare of the sun blasting down at me.
I just got shivers sitting here in the oppressive heat.
A Frightening Sight
The shivers are not from wishful thinking about cool breezes, but from the sudden shock of looking up from my chair and seeing two mangy coyotes running along the fence in my yard, just a few feet away. I’m just happy they didn’t spot me, and that I didn’t come face-to-face with them by accident. Now I understand why some Texans wear six-shooters on their hip.
Somewhat like the eerie cries of the loons on the lake in the summer, we hear coyotes cry out in song and harmony on nights when the moon is full. A choir of yips is often their celebration of a newfound meal, and a good indicator not to put the dog out.
Small dogs and guinea pigs tend to disappear around these parts; we know that from personal experience. Though we romanticized that maybe our fuzzball pig just decided to escape her little outdoor pen for a better life elsewhere, or perhaps a college education, she probably was a tasty meal for a raptor or a coyote.
We’ve been home a full week now, but our return was met with a somewhat sad moment when we learned from the pig sitter that our remaining guinea pig, Susan, had graduated to that great pigpen in the sky. She’d lived to about double the predicted age because of good food and a pampered existence. No guinea pig ever had a better life.
Pressure is now upon us for a dog, but with college for triplets looming in just three years, a new puppy isn’t terribly practical. We’ve resisted so far, but my guess is the tug of some big brown eyes will one day soon win our hearts.
Last time around, a box of puppies in a two-minute encounter resulted in almost two decades of puppy love, along with some hard times.
Like puppies … all decisions are emotional.
Emotions drive everything. It’s something I talk about from time to time on my marketing blog. People may rationalize the purchase of a painting with practicalities about how it’s a perfect match to the couch, or explain why that shiny red sports car is more practical because it gets better gas mileage. But the reality is that emotion is running our lives and decisions.
We Owe It All to Emotions
If rational decisions ruled our lives, there would be no art, no paintings, no galleries, no giant overbuilt houses, and no sports cars. Instead we would all live in small brick bunkers with no decorations. Thankfully, most of us prefer something that scratches our emotional itch.
Art may be one of the most emotional of all decisions. Yet its power to trigger emotions is also healing.
Ever look at a painting and take a deep sigh, as if you’d just entered paradise? I have, many times.
The emotion of art transforms us to other places in our minds. Hospitals have discovered this, which is why many have giant art budgets and hundreds of paintings.
Who Needs Star Trek?
The pain of being ill or visiting a loved one in a hospital can be relieved for a brief moment because a painting teleports us to a different place. Who needs Star Trek? Just go to a museum.
Speaking of museums…
If you stop and think about the institutions in our lives, most are based on the healing power of art or the arts.
Big Giant Museums
Some of the world’s biggest, most impressive public buildings are dedicated to the arts … painting, music, dance. The biggest ones house paintings and sculpture: The Louvre. The Hermitage. The Prado. The Met.
If that doesn’t convince you of the lasting power of art, nothing will.
An Artist’s Big Dream
Those of us who make art dream that one day our art will end up on the walls of a museum, which hopefully will secure us a place in history forever.
Artists have a special gift. They see the world differently. And people look at artists and their gift as something they wish they could have. My hope is that you and I can help many of those people find it for themselves, that we can convince them that they too can have that gift.
And imagine how healing it would be if everyone everywhere would stop, study nature or the human figure, and slow down enough to paint it.
Artists are a small part of the overall population, yet their influence is commanding and deeply felt.
The Artist Inside Each of Us
I believe there is an artist inside each of us waiting to be pulled out and put to good use. Some of you are already artists, others discovering it. Still others may need a nudge, or just a little encouragement.
The more of us there are, the more giant museums we’ll need. And that can’t be a bad thing.
Take some time and make some art today. It will make today that much better.