Dear little South African girl who was saying goodbye to her granny and grandpa at the Atlanta Airport. You put on such a brave face until they gave you that last, heartbreaking, wave and disappeared around the corner. Your tears told us how sore your heart was. Your sad little face touched everyone around you. I think the whole airport wanted to give you a hug. I drew this picture for you. I hope it helps a little.
Someone asked me over coffee recently what I considered the most valuable lesson I learned on my travels.
Without hesitation I told him the most important thing I learned was that the fact that, no matter what happens, there is ALWAYS seems to be hope.
On the way home from coffee, I turned on the radio and every channel I listened to was negative. I heard about…
One political party bashing another.
One religion bashing another.
One celebrity bashing another.
Sports fans bashing opposition teams.
DJ’s laughing about someone’s misfortunes.
I read a few articles on the Internet that day and the comments under the articles sent a shiver down my spine. Most comments under any article were downright horrible.
I read about…
People being so rude and hurtful without shame.
People viciously putting others down.
People making vile racist comments.
People drooling with hatred for everything and anything they don’t agree with. Like the putrid comments under You Tube videos. (How can people get so worked up and nasty about whether the Eagles are a better band than the Doobie Brothers or Metallica better than Iron Maiden? If the people who post those comments spent all the time and energy they do hating each other and volunteered instead, the world would be a better place.)
I turned on the TV after that and saw footage from the various terrorist attacks around the world.
I saw people being stoned because they had been the victim of rape.
I just couldn’t stand it!
So, I turned off the media and went to the Children’s Hospital close to where I live and visited some kids with cancer.
And I SMILED because I saw…
Families supporting each other.
Kids making every moment that they’re alive, COUNT.
A child with cancer comforting another child who was throwing up from her chemo.
A bald kid moon-walking down the hallway singing, “I’m bad, I’m bad,” at the top of his voice!
Two teens with cancer, who are dating, swooning, loving on each other and planning their future because instead of saying 20 percent of kids with cancer don’t survive they are saying 80 percent of kids with cancer DO survive!
Make no mistake. At the hospital I saw a lot of pain and suffering, but unlike what I saw, heard and read in the media, in the Cancer ward, more than anything, I saw…
I was trapped behind a slow moving car on the freeway the other day. I was trying to get nowhere in a hurry and she was in my bloody way!
It was raining hard and she hit the brakes every few seconds. The traffic was heavy and it was almost impossible to change lanes to get past her.
I don’t know if it was her incessant brake tapping, or the fact that I am weary from constantly traveling, but I started to get irritated. I am not usually an irritable chap but the more she tapped, and the more I felt trapped, the more irritated I became.
Finally, I couldn’t stand it and I quickly signaled and slipped dangerously into a gap in the next lane. I pissed off the guy in that lane and he flashed his lights and yelled at me.
I moved alongside the brake tapper and lowered my window. I was frustrated and angry! I was just about to let the idiot have it. I was going to yell at her big time.
And then I saw her.
She wasn’t an idiot. She was a sweet looking frazzled mom, driving in the pouring rain, trying to wipe the fogged windshield, while simultaneously leaning back and attempting to comfort what looked like infant twins screaming their heads off on the back seat.
She looked over at me with such a worried, apologetic, sad look on her face.
I know that look.
I have seen it before.
That look was the reason I made a promise to myself thirty years ago to never lose my temper in a car again.
I was a typical twenty five year-old at the time I made the promise to myself. I really thought I knew everything about everything in those days. I was driving my little old-school Mini. The sunroof was open and my eight-track tape deck was playing Boston’s ‘More than a Feeling’ at full volume.
I was singing at the top of my voice when suddenly a car jumped a stop sign right in front of me. I braked and swerved. I barely missed the old guy’s car.
I was livid. He did not even see me.
I was so angry. I wanted to beat him up. I turned my car around and chased after him. I was ready to fight. The idiot almost killed me and he drove on without even a sideways glance or an apology.
I chased him for a few blocks and finally caught up with him. He had stopped at a stop sign correctly this time.
I honked at him gesticulating and waving my fist.
He seemed confused. He wound down his window.
“You jumped a stop sign back there you &%$#@ idiot! What the hell…”
“I did?” he said looking back over his shoulder. “Oh my goodness, I am so sorry.”
I was boiling with anger. I jumped out of my car and strode over to his window.
He put up his hands in an apologetic manner. “I sorry. I…I… don’t know what to do.”
“What do you mean you don’t know what to do?” I yelled.
“My…my wife had a heart attack,” he stammered. “I just came from the hospital. I’m so sorry. I’m not thinking right. I’m really sorry.”
I stopped in my tracks.
The poor man was distraught. He was clutching the steering wheel with both hands. Shaken to the core.
I shut my big fat stupid mouth and reached in and patted him on the shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” I said, hating myself for making the whole world about me. “Do you want me to take you home or something?”
I felt awful. He was just a sweet looking grandpa in a brown suit with a tie. His hat was sitting next to him on the passenger seat.
His eyes were brimming with tears.
“Um, no, that’s okay,” he said, “I…my son is meeting me at the house.”
Long after he was gone, I sat on the bonnet of my car and cried.
I’m glad I didn’t break my promise to myself today.
It has come to my notice that the world is suffering from a severe lack of compassion coupled with a serious empathy deficit.
There is a dire shortage of love in the world at present.
Please find it in your heart to donate any extra, or unused love you may have laying around to those in need.
An open letter to my incredible, new, creative mentor.
Dear Ivy –
You may be six years old but the other night you taught me more about creativity in two hours than I learned the entire time I was at school.
You taught me that…
The sun does not have to be in the top left or right hand corner of a picture. It can be on the bottom if you’re looking at it reflected in water.
Guacamole is a great substitute for green paint and it spreads rather nicely.
A regular old HB pencil can last for hours and hours and doesn’t need a battery or recharging.
Every restaurant has sheets of white paper in the office if you just ask with a big smile.
If there is an obstacle in your way, such as a glass of water, just draw around it and incorporate it into your picture.
People look at cell phones more than they look at original art.
A drawing of a cat can be turned into a drawing of a dog if you use a pen to…fluff up it’s hair, mess with its ears, pop in a couple of teeth, add a collar, and add a wagging tail.
You can explain what your art represents by saying, “Look at me,” to the viewer to get their full attention while you discuss your work.
You don’t need expensive markers, pens or paints to make a powerful, moving, artistic statement.
Beauty is in the eye of the pencil holder.
If the picture you’re making isn’t working, throw it over your shoulder and start again even if you’re in a restaurant.
A heart does not necessarily have to have a perfect ‘heart’ shape. It still means love.
You don’t have to sign your name in the bottom left or right corner of your picture. Slap bang in the middle is perfectly fine.
A paper airplane can fly backwards if you throw it hard enough. (We made and decorated a paper plane and I was trying to show you how to throw it but you told me I was wrong and you insisted on throwing it backwards. You were right. You threw the plane into the air. It arced up backwards and then gently eased forward gliding comfortably past a number of tables and almost flew into the kitchen.)
You also made me realize that It is possible to illustrate a portrait on a plain ol’ white napkin.
Can’t wait for my next lesson.