Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Unexpected art

An unplanned trip to give support to a family member in need of surgery was clearly not about me. It was about showing my love and support. It was about spending my days in the hospital and being there in person, to help, to keep company, to share in this physically and mentally challenging experience. 

But before I left, someone special gave me some really good advice. To keep myself strong, centered and fully available to serving my family, ignoring my own needs during those two weeks would not be beneficial. I had to keep myself full. 

So while I was there I did a great deal of yoga. It did wonders for my body, stretching it out after long hours of sitting immobile on the small couch in the hospital room. And for my mind, well, let's just say the yoga saved me, allowing me to find that place of calm and positivity, keeping me away from anxiety, dark places and stress. 

And in those moments when the anxiety did feel like it might begin to spiral out of control, I wrote. I typed almost without thinking, letting the words flow through me. By turning those fears into a story, I was able return my focus to the details of the moment, the here and now, and all the good there was in that. 

I gave myself a somewhat mindless creative project to work on to keep that part of me that needs to always be doing something occupied and help me feel like I was checking something important off my to do list. All those hours of quiet time added up to completing 3 out of the 5 photo albums that I've been meaning to make for about a year now. 

I went on long walks through Westwood Village during my lunch break, browsing in stores, buying little presents, supplementing my limited carry-on luggage wardrobe, sampling over-priced juices, eating good food, and soaking up the college vibe of this urban extension of the UCLA campus. 

Back in the hospital, we got to know those corridors well. We went on many walks together, up and down and circling around again and again. We smiled as we passed by the nurses and other hospital staff who so quickly became familiar faces. We paused to admire the art on the walls. This was a hospital full of art everywhere you looked. Prints, paintings, mixed media. Rauchenbergs, Warhols, Calders. Our favorite works were our landmarks, our points of color in the otherwise sterile shiny walls of the hospital. 

In the end the trip was a gift. Despite the circumstances, the time spent together felt special, sacred, and at times even fun. Reflecting on these two weeks the stressful moments are not what I remember, but rather the opportunity to practice living in the moment, the luxury of having nothing to do other than be together, standing still to admire a lovely work of art. 

The artworks from top to bottom:
Any Warhol, Campbell Soup, print on a paper bag
Anthony Berlant, Singing to the Whales, found metal collage with steel brads over wood
Calderesque mobile (not sure who the artist is)


  1. The hospital experience... yes, time stops and it does feel like being in some sort of "bubble". This might sound strange but some of the best times with my family have been spent in hospital waiting rooms. Unlike family dinners, the time together is less forced, casual, more intimate...real time.

    Good for you for walking, and doing your yoga. You're a good example!

    Hoping that the hospital patient is on the mend and healing now...

    1. That sounds exactly right on, Janis. I totally get what you say (now after having spent 10 days in a hospital!!!). I had no idea I could have such a meaningful time with my family under such conditions, but it was really powerful and bonding. And the healing is going beautifully, so we are all so pleased. You are so lovely!!! xo


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