Don’t look back. Look forward. I hear this message often. It’s decent advice. Yet looking forward occasionally includes looking back just to see how far one has come. Progress isn’t always immediately noticeable. A big long hard look is not always necessary but a little glance, a chance encounter with your own personal history.
Reminders of the past are stay with us. We cannot escape them, but we can learn to live with them. They come up unexpected at any time. One day I was looking for something to write about and I noticed my coffee cup on the table:
An empty cup rests on my coffee table left there last night after drinking tea. It is the first cup I bought after my separation. Every cup I owned had my husband’s name on it. This cup is nameless and covered with bright fruits in bold sweeping strokes. I stood for fifteen minutes at the shelf deciding to buy the cup for myself; not because it was expensive, the cup cost about two dollars, but since it represented the first decision to make on my own in almost twenty years. It is now a bit chipped around the lip and base. One day it may break. It has traveled with me and held many brews from warm milk with honey when sick to Lady Grey on a dreamy evening spent in solitude. It does not have a name on it and never will. I prefer it that way.
I shared this small stone of observance with some friends, and since I paint the idea arose that I do a painting of my cup. Old Dutch 17th century still-life with their subjects full of symbolism came up in discussion, and I decided to do a still life.
I won’t mention the symbolism in the painting and what it stands for, but my cup is there.
However unlike a painting of strawberries and a cup, life is never really still. Life moves on and the cup is now one of several with no name but which are mine. A painting captures a small moment to linger on, but it also helps to let it go.