In April of 1994 I was diagnosed with colon cancer and didn’t know if I would live to raise my daughter, Sara. It was all I wanted. My wish came true and, of course, there are other dreams in life, like doing meaningful work – and making art in my case. Sara is living a dream of hers: living in the country, being in love and having a life full of meaning.
I remember, all those years ago, believing that people around me would not care to reach outside of their own families or lives. I was so wrong. My dear friend Barbara Ellmann said, at the time, that she knew I would be one of the first in line to help someone else, and so, she would, and did. My family, neighborhood and other friends came forward to help. The most important thing I learned from that experience is that to receive is to give. For those of us who are proud and, supposedly, independent, we need other people to make our lives whole. We are interdependent.
When it comes to this time of year, most of us are anxious to give the perfect gift to those we love, and if we are honest with ourselves, to receive the perfect gift. Gifts that say: “I love you. I see who you really are,” and gifts from others that say we are loved in return. It is tricky.
The perfect gift is subtle. It is about valuing ourselves and those we love. What is enough? A question I have asked myself in so many ways: in gift-giving and in art-making and in life in general. Pare it down, see if the love you feel for those around you is enough.