One of the most surprising things I have learned during my lifetime is that being a survivor is not something that happens to you, rather it is a decision followed by effort. There was a time when I thought being a survivor meant that something bad happened to you and it did not kill you. You survived the event, therefore were a survivor.
Not so. There is a huge difference between living through something, and surviving.
Being a survivor has three components. First, you have to live through something that had the potential to cause serious harm. The harm could be physical, mental, and/or emotional. That is the easy part. Next, you have to decide that whatever it was that hurt you will not define you, limit you, control you, or keep you from living a happy productive life. Third, you have to work at making that happen… every day. That takes strength and courage.
This painting was inspired by what I have learned about being a survivor. I have chosen to use the predictable and reliable cycle of the four seasons to illustrate the ongoing process of survival. This work is set in the time of year at the very end of fall, when the excitement of the harvest is nearly over and the very last of the colorful autumn leaves are desperately clinging to the mostly bare branches of an old tree under a muted golden sky. On the surface, it seems as if nothing but the bleak cold winter lies ahead. However, every fall the universe makes a promise that despite appearances to the contrary, everything did not die, life continues below the surface… and the cold will not last forever.
Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski
“I’m a little wounded, but I am not slain; I will lay me down to bleed a while. Then I’ll rise and fight again.”
― John Dryden