holding the canvas
One of the most elucidating moments that I experienced while working in hospitals was when I was asked to help a teenage boy paint a picture; a landscape where the sea meets the sky. Though he was not able to use his hands, his desire to participate, to create, was so strong that he took a brush in his mouth and followed the instructions being given to the other patients in the clinic. And I was lucky enough to hold the canvas.
I learned three things:
- Kids with illnesses/disabilities are not defined solely by their situation.
- Art is a powerful tool in the process of healing.
- There are many lessons in differentiating attention and intention.
I had a strong desire to steer the brush, to guide the canvas so that he was “successful” in creating the image of a beach, the sun and the sky. But I realized that my vision was not as important as encouraging his effort. My idea of brush strokes had no relevance while he was creating. I imagined the picture on the wall of his room. Would it be an image of how I helped him or a record of his effort, his courage, his strength?