SHIPS IN WINTER
During law school, I pledged to myself that as soon as I passed the bar exam I would purchase a piece of original art. And, indeed, this promise I actually kept to myself. Keeping promises to myself was not entirely without precedent, but luxuries are generally the first items crossed off when cash is limited and historically, cash was limited in our house. Nevertheless, my determination to keep this promise eventually brought me to a small studio that doubled as the artist’s home in a small fishing village off the coast of Maine. It seemed to me, that within the terrain of this not quite famous arts and crafts community, anyone should be able to locate an inspired artist and some piece of art resonating with reasonable glory... even on my budget.
But, why I picked the art work I eventually picked has taken some reflection and honest assessment. Actually, almost three years of periodic reflection. Earnestly, some of the time was spent simply gazing at the canvas now occupying a very large space on my office wall; gazing, wondering, intensely hoping there was a profound reason for choosing this particular seascape and some guiding hand provoking my investment.
My original intent had been to purchase a blurry depiction of light-filled spring laden joys, which might otherwise be called impressionistic. Instead, I spent a year making payments for a canvas depicting ships in winter. The ships were snowed in the bay, gently bobbing with the force of nothingness. Sails down, no distant lands to conquer, void of inspiring gale force winds with resolute captains at the wheel. Only snow falling in a manner that would likely keep the most stoic of New Englanders sipping toddy by the fire. Ships in Winter was hardly the type of scene I envisioned as my first major art purchase.
Some say art mimics life. My life, following the long-awaited purchase of this first work, managed to mimic the art. Prophetically, the canvas seemed to usher in a season of record-breaking winter and, without a doubt, the longest in the near half century I have on record. Most of what people call “lessons learned” from this season in my life will sound cliche. Yet, I have a sensible friend who says cliche has purpose because cliche makes sense. Thus, at the risk of sounding cliche and, in fact, recognizing the inevitability of it, I will say that my Ships in Winter carried a metaphorical force. It demonstrated the all too familiar storm settled without remorse, un-relinquishing in its capacity to blind sight, obscure life and thwart vision. In winter, you dock the small ships. At that point, you have two choices. You can wait for the ice to break and the seasons to change. Or, if your vessel is sure and the captain unwavering; you can trust, push through the ice, traverse the dark seas, and find spring.