Updated: Apr 23, 2021
Five Canvases. 197 Days. 34 People. 9,000+ miles. Thousands of Moments.
One Piece of Art.
Life is so fragile, uncertain, and ever-changing. This past year has shown that time and time again. With all the tragedy and difficulties this year has thrown at us, people want to gather and be together. The issue is we can't be together and grieve the losses many people faced. We are all grieving something together but separate. The distance makes it all so hard because there is comfort in grieving collectively with people. This long, long, long moment has brought forth an immense amount of emotions and at times I feel overwhelmed. Ever since March, I have been going throw waves of loneliness and trying to find ways to combat that. It hasn't been easy and it is constantly a struggle because humans aren't supposed to be a part. We are a social species and what we had to do this past year goes against our natural instincts. Understanding all of this provided me a lot of time to reflect.
Through reflection, I realized it is important to recognize the fragility that exists around us because that is what makes life truly beautiful. A moment shared with someone you love is a moment well lived. I have felt like I missed out on many of those moments but, I don't want to dwell on what could've been because that will do me no good. All that will do is make me more depressed, sad, and angry. I know because I already felt all of those emotions and processed 'what could've been.' This is what is and this is the moment I am living in. In this moment, I have been searching for ways to connect with people, how to create with people, how to love myself, how to find fulfillment, and how to keep moving forward. March 2020 and on has been filled with many of these moments.
This canvas and project filled a lot of moments this past year and I'm filled to the brim with emotions when I look at it. One major reason it makes me emotional is because it is a sign of growth for me. When I started this, I thought it would be a fun little project that I can control because in a time with so little control I wanted to control something. I realized I couldn't control anything about this. I can't control what is painted onto the canvas, what happens to it in the mail, or the amount of time the project might take. Accepting that was hard for me to do but, once I did, the beauty of it began to hit me. As I said, I had a lot of low moments this past year but, things like hope, friendship, and love helped me get through it. In the painting, I get to see the ways I get to connect with people whether that is on the phone, through music, or in the forest on a hike. Experiencing life alongside the canvas gave me a lot of insight on life and helped me practice gratitude for so many people.
I know a lot of the pain, frustration, and challenges are still very much here but, like it says on canvas "The sun will come up and we will try again." I will try again day after day to make each day a little better than the last. I will try to find ways to bring people together. I will try to make one person smile. I will try to live my truth and live in the moment. That being said, that "try again" isn't a forget what happened, it is building off of the past. It builds much like how this canvas grew. The canvas started blank and then I painted two words on it, "The Moment." Through the challenges, the curveballs, the ideas, and the creative solutions allowed for the canvas to grow into what it is now. The canvas represents what many people have felt throughout this past year and now it is a piece of art that doesn't belong to any one person.
The canvas belongs to the people who contributed to it including the frontline workers many of which are our postal workers. Not only that, it belongs to anyone who sees themself in it. It can bring a sense of community and comfort by just looking at it because it shows how even though we are a part, we will always be together. The human spirit preserves and is resilient.
I can say more but, I will just say this. The future has so much uncertainty but, we have to live in the moment. In many of the moments that the canvas traveled, everyone was able to add a quote or thought to it and they speak volumes. Here are some thoughts and quotes from the canvas's travels.
"White. A blank page or canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities." - Stephen Sondheim
"If you can dream it, you can do it." - Walt Disney
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." - Pablo Picasso
"I drew the panda because pandas represent and symbolize friendship and peace in China." -Vanessa Haynes
"I always believed in savoring the moments. In the end, they are the only things we'll have." - Anna Godbersen
"Live your life by a compass, not a clock." - Stephen Covey
"Love helps us get through the hards moments." - Liza Kammer
"A new world calls across the ocean." - Jason Robert Brown
"I am in the mood to dissolve into the sky." - Virginia Woolf
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - The Talmud
"Being from Northeast Ohio, I have a natural pull to the people in this region. Lebron James has become such a beacon of hope. He cares deeply for his community, unashamed to acknowledge the challenges of growing up in the area. But he reminds people with his return home letter, 'that nothing is given, everything is earned.' In times such as these, we must stay eager to contribute to the causes that make/shape our concepts of home. Never quit on your communities because nothing is given, so let's go out and earn a better home." - Stacy George
"That nothing is given, everything is earned." - Lebron James
"Life is not the mountain tops, it's the walking in between." - Ben Rector
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything." - Plato
"Live for the moments you can't put into words" - Clo Mailen
"No day but today" - Jonathon Larson
“You are alive, so take your life and enjoy it. ” - Miguel Ruiz
"Change is good." - Payton Wilson
"Connection is incredibly important to me. This has been a beautiful exercise in connection that I have been very happy to be a part of. I needed a boost to motivate me creatively and this has been perfect. I think this pandemic and time in the world has forced us to be extra creative. And I appreciate this project as a reflection of that" - Brittany Thomas
"Closer than we think." - Isabel Whittaker-Walker
"The saguaro cactus is an important symbol of the desert of southern Arizona. These giants that live for over a century stand tall in the dry desert and blossom with flowers in spring/summer. The beauty born out of adversity through the saguaro is a powerful image to me that encapsulates the moment we are in. We have the opportunity to emerge from this challenge all the more beautiful." - Noah Dettman
"Life is like a snowglobe, often it's prettiest after it's been turned upside-down" - Author Unknown
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan
"When you move, the universe moves with you." - Rune Lanzuli
"Become who you are" - Nietzsche
"The sun will come up... and we will try again" - Author Unknown
"The only constant is change" - Tabitha Hanay-Reaves
"The good is more like the beautiful than the reasonable" - David Hume
"Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What's important is the action. You don't have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually, the confidence will come." - Carrie Fisher
“'You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take - Wayne Gretzky' - Michael Scott” - Maggie Chen
"'Long Live' is one of my favorite songs, but recently I've come to understand its meaning even more. It makes me nostalgic for the old days, but also makes me appreciate the moments so much more. Lyrics that just get to me: 'Long live all the mountains we moved' '...all the magic we made' 'I had the time of my life, with you.'" - Erin Kafka
"The best view comes after the hardest climb"
Much like the growing list of thoughts, quotes, and sentiments, the canvas has grown and been through a lot of moments. It lived through historical moments like the election, moments of hope like the vaccine, and moments of darkness like the hard winter and year we had. The canvas got briefly lost but, was found. The canvas got stuck in the mail during the holiday season. The canvas experienced many moments that challenged it and its journey and it still was able to make it around the country. Love, hope, friendship, and connection made this possible.
There are many challenging moments to come. Even in those challenging moments we can find the bright lights and the joy. The canvas was a bright light for me. Looking forward, here is to finding the joy in the ordinary and finding ways to be together. I vow to always try to live in the moment (I know I will slip up... I mean I am human). Growing this project has proven to me that there is so much that can happen on an ordinary day. In the end, the days make up our lives so, I need to take each day as it comes because that is my life. My life doesn't start in the future. It starts now, in this moment.
A moment of appreciation: Thank you to everyone who helped me out with this crazy little project. It all started with an idea and a 'what if.' Thank everyone who helped make this possible. Thank you to Marisa Garritty (NJ), Kelsey Kilpartick (NJ), Gali Zaborowski (NJ), Vanessa Haynes (OH), Jessie Pollak (OH), Liza Kammer (OH), Zac DelMonte (OH), Laurel Waller (OH), Stacy George (OH), Danielle Wehrle (OH), Maya Thomas-Benke (OH), Jenna Wehrle (OH), Sydney Stewart (OH), Payton Wilson (KS), Brittany Thomas (WA), Isabel Whittaker-Walker (CA), Noah Dettman (AZ), Tyler Stidham (AL), Grace Perrotta (FL), Isabel Royer (MA), Helen Sternberg (MA), Tabitha Hanay-Reaves (MA), Meagan O'Connell (MA), Chelsea Frisch (NY), Erin Kafka (NY), and Hannah Frankel (NJ). Additionally, thank you to all the friends and family who joined to work on it. All of you made this possible and I am grateful to have you and your creativity in my life. A big THANK YOU to the USPS, UPS, Fed-Ex, and all the postal workers for making this project possible because it couldn't happen without them. I also want to say thank you to everyone who heard me talk about this incessantly for months on end because I was just so excited about this lil' ditty. Thank you to you, the reader, for being a part of this community and supporting me.
Cheers to this moment and every moment to come.