“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway
I was getting ready for a large gallery show in Minneapolis. I completed all the paintings. My apartment was filled. Canvases leaned against every wall, heavy object, flat surface. The show was to be in a few days and I needed to finish the framing. My largest piece, and the centerpiece of the show, was “The stairs.” 4′ x 5′, it stood proudly in the middle of my workspace. I was finishing the last frame. It was late in the evening. I was tired. That feeling of “I should have stopped 30 minutes ago,” had come, hovered, ignored by wanting to just finish.
I dropped the frame I was working on. Everything was in slow motion. Nooooooooo. I lept to grab it. Too late. The corner of the wood fell directly into the middle of the stairs and ripped a 6″ line through it. I couldn’t breathe. I kept hitting the “undo” button in my brain, but it remained.
I cried. Cursed. Called my mom. Cried again. Gathered myself. Breathed. Paced in front of it. Cried. And finally fell to sleep.
The light of day, as it often does, shown a light on the action needed. I had matching canvas. I patched the back of the canvas. Painted over the area. Seamlessly painted the area that was damaged. It was fine. No, it was more than fine. It was beautiful. More beautiful. Now it had a story. It had a life. It was actually living the verse that I wrote to go with it. I was living the verse, again, I wrote to go with it.
These stairs. My life.
“The stairs” was the first painting I sold at the show.
Stronger in the broken places.