‘This blank state of being that descends like a soft veil or settles like the surface of a still pond is a gift from the strokes.’
“I am an artist and often have more creative ideas than I have the ability to carry out, particularly now in my post-stroke body, which is healing slowly. On January 21, 2022, I had an ischemic stroke, which caused the right side of my body to quickly become paralyzed. Fortunately, I was able to get to the hospital right away and was administered the drug tPa, which can reverse the effects. I remember the absolute joy at being able to move my hand again, smile, speak and walk with a cane.
“After the stroke, my mind can be so peaceful. I can sit for long periods without a thought in my head, nor a need to do anything. When I am in this state of being, there is no struggle and no suffering.
“As I am healing, I try to draw and paint often so that I can rebuild the circuitry in my brain through muscle memory and regain the full use of my hand.
Sometimes I feel so attached to all I have done and want to do, and it causes me grief.
“Just weeks after the stroke, I decided to attend an online meeting of artists who create together but had no idea what I would do. I started by simply drawing a circle on paper. I found peace with a pencil that made soft gray marks, and I used it to very slowly create a gradient around the interior line of the circle. I called that first circle a mandala, a word that means ‘circle’ in Sanskrit. The circles I create are empty in the center, and yet complete. I have since completed a series of circle paintings.
“My state of being after the stroke has fluctuated, and recovery is not linear, as each day is different from the next. In each moment, we are not who we were before, and we are not yet what we will be. Trying to see what we cannot yet see only causes suffering. Sometimes I feel so attached to all I have done and want to do, and it causes me grief. This is natural, I think. I do have endless stories to tell, ideas to express and mediums to explore and play with. But this blank state of being that descends like a soft veil or settles like the surface of a still pond is a gift from the strokes. It is a way to peace and to acceptance of myself as I am now, in this moment. I want to remember to reach for my art whenever I begin to suffer by trying to see ahead of myself in the circle of my life.”
Interviewed by Jenna Kern – Rugile