Afloat

I was told that if I write a blog I should choose one thing to focus on that I am passionate about or an expert on. I thought, “What one thing am I passionate about?” I couldn’t come up with just one. Then I thought, “How does one become an expert at something? Is it by authoring many books on the subject? Is it by writing a syndicated column for ten years? Is it from having a doctorate degree on the subject? Is it from having 5000 facebook friends following you?” If so, then I am not an expert on anything. I spent hours and hours talking to myself about this dilemma. Fair warning: this blog is written with passion but without expertise.

This image captivates me and has since the moment I saw it. This small painting with a big message is a gem I came across in a treasure trove of aesthetic objects. It inspires my imagination. For me, at least, it reads like Melville’s Billy Budd, illustrating a character who is naïve, innocent, guilty, and neither brave nor cowardly-a man floating through life.  Either coming in from being caught in a storm or heading out after it, this man gazes bemusedly towards the ray of light as if he doubts the promise of clear skies. He drifts with no oars, no sail, and only a slack rope which is not securely attached to his boat, but is foolishly tied to his ankle like a shackle keeping him from running (or swimming) away, it serves as neither safety to rescue him nor threat to pull him under. Limbs left bare of foliage, dangle the luscious fruit of temptation. He doesn’t seem to be cautiously resisting danger, exhibiting virtuous will power, or ignoring opportunity; but rather remaining ignorant and naïve to temptation’s existence. Soaring overhead, with a sinister touch of reality, unlike another story of stormy seas where a peaceful dove represents worry free calm seas and sunny skies, a bird of prey hovers above confirming a continuation of obstacles and challenges. Through life’s storms and temptations, there exist fleeting moments of happiness. Overall, the message in this painting seems to say, there is no use crying over spilt milk-life drifts on.

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