My Fathers Silence
My father once told me of a setting moon he saw while crossing the Rose Bay bridge on his way to work one morning. It was the first time in my forty years he shared with me something beautiful that he had witnessed.
Eighteen years after his death, I still can not cross that bridge without remembering him there. Picturing him watching a coral moon sink into a dying pink sky. Knowing, he was alive on that bridge, for a moment. Knowing as he looked upon that sublime scene, he was thinking of me.
I no longer remember the day my father described how beautiful the moon was—how the white birds flew over the moon’s reflection in the still water. Not even sure I knew where we were. All I know, all that matters, is that we were together. Flesh and blood. Father and son. And for the first time, I felt a tightening of the unspoken bond between us.
My father was a taciturn man. Growing up, I’d try to talk to him, ask him something, and he would not answer. Silent, impassive. He had to work two and three jobs and I rarely saw him. I grew up, and he saw my paintings, my passion for the things he silently loved too. He saw these things come out of the heart of his son.
Some say that I took the agony of his absence and silence, and made of it something beautiful.
“Behind every beautiful thing there’s some kind of pain.” Bob Dylan
I could have buried my feelings, bury them like my father. Like he taught me. For a time, I tried too. Tried to drown them in alcohol and various other substances. Raced my motorcycles down a self-destructive path like a monkey on a rocket. Jumped them over tractors and trucks, and once surprised a sheriff eating lunch in his car as I flew past his windshield.
Then I made a one hundred and eighty degree turn in my life. Somehow, the art began to emerge. People ask, where does your art come, and no formal training? I don’t know. Where does the wind begin?
My mother has always been creative. My father drew as a child, and his mother was an artist, until her demons drowned her voice. Mother and son, each suppressed their souls, withdrawing into themselves. Their emotions and thoughts locked in chambers of their inner worlds. The richness of their lives, forever a secret to those who loved them. Locked in darkness. I inherited these dark rooms as well. And vowed I would never close the door to them, no matter the cost. Leave the door ajar, let the light slip in and join the darkness.
Let light and shadow make love and create beauty. Create Art. What is the point of a life of beauty, if not shared?
I suppose I paint places in nature because they are silent reminders. Representations of feelings unspoken throughout my life. Most of my memories with loved ones were born under the Florida sun. I came to painting by way of the places that I roamed as child, alone and with family and friends. I loved the people, and I loved the places. The two became inseparable. I came to associate landscapes with love.
For a little over a year now, I have been practicing hot yoga. We are taught to breathe, to come home to our bodies. To quiet the mind, open our hearts, release the pain and embrace the divine silence.
My art comes from the silence. The silence of the land, the silence of the soul… the silence of my father, the silent voices of those who I have loved and are gone. The silent battlefields of the heart.
My art comes with a message of light, of peace and beauty. Virtues that will always triumph over the dark forces in our lives. But only if we allow ourselves the courage to express them and not remain silent.
If my outpouring of paintings and words speak to your heart, encircles your life with joy, enriches your spirit, enlightens or inspires you—if my paintings touch a quiet place of beauty in you, and causes you to see and act in ways that positively affect the ones you love. Than I will have served the silence of my father well.
If you find someone that you love, please let them know.
Talk to them.