December 12, 2021
Astrid, who is ten, painted this for me. Put glitter in the sea, so it would sparkle. Even though I see her, sitting at the end of the dock, looking out at the setting sun, she said it could be anyone, anyone who wants to sit there, look at that sea, that sun.
Astrid saw some paintings I had done of birds, and was selling her meditations–one page pieces of writing that guide you out into the world– to earn enough money to buy one. I told her we could swap paintings instead. So she painted this for me, then asked for the painting of the goldfinch I had done. It had already sold, so I told her I could paint her another one, or any bird for that matter. A cardinal, she said. Something colorful. Then asked if I could paint a cat too. I’d never painted a cat, but said yes, because when a ten year old girl paints a painting for you, you paint one for her.
There are so many ways to be in this world. So many interactions in a life. But to be the recipient of a painting, made specifically for you by a young girl, by this young girl, Astrid, is maybe the best way to be in the world.
What we make with our hands feels like an extension of us. When we paint something from our heads, something we feel, see, dream–make it real, we make too the relationship we have with paint and canvas and each other, real. Tangible. It is in my office now, Astrid’s sunset. The glitter sparkles in this afternoon winter light. The dolphin is lighter than air, aiming for the sun. Which is pretty much how I feel too, looking at the painting Astrid painted for me.