I love the poem Love After Love by Derek Walcott. I first heard it recited by Jon Kabat Zinn, the founder of MBSR  (mindfulness-based stress reduction). It is about learning to love ourselves, to be present and at home in our own lives. I’ve been on that quest for a long time now. Today, I feel that homecoming, that welcoming of myself at my own door. I feel it all as I worked on this painting.

All my life, I’ve been told that I was smart and talented. I must not have believed it. After high school, I was going to take a secretarial course. My public school principal was aghast at my decision and chided me. I have too much intelligence and talent. I should not waste it. Then I got an entrance scholarship to university. That decided it. I went for two years. I got wayward and lost. I did not fail but I did not shine either. I dropped out and became a steno despite my smarts and talent. Four years later, I became a nurse. I emptied bedpans and saved lives for over 30 years.

It was a year and a half ago that I decided to investigate my ‘talent’. I’ve been talking about it most of my life. My artistic training consisted of maybe 4 classes many decades ago. I grew tired and embarrassed listening to myself repeat the same story. I started to feel like someone who people try to avoid. Same old, same old story. It was time to tell a new one. Entered 100 Day Project on Instagram. I did a little art each day for 100 days. I’ve learned that talent is not enough. Practice does make for better.


So I’ve finally arrived after all these years. I feel the elation rising. The canvas is my mirror. I caress the face with my brush. We smile back at each other. Strange and strangers to each other till now. Where have you been? Where have I been? The questions echo silently in the air. So many years have passed. You have lain motionless and silent within this body. I did not know you were within though I’ve been lonely and longed for you. Now you have arrived. Welcome. Come in, sit here. Eat.



The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

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