2020 has taken its toll on the world. People are rioting, dying, protesting, and dancing in the streets. If it was a roller coaster, the reactions would be split between those who do not want to get off, and the rest standing in line, covered in someone else’s vomit, demanding a refund. I have seen friendships destroyed, and I have felt helpless as I stand on the sidelines. I knew I wanted to write this article, but for the longest time, I struggled with how to do it.
The other day, I read a Facebook post, written by a friend. It was so eloquently written, it provoked me to reach out to my friend and ask if I could share it. My friend gave me permission but wanted to remain anonymous. I respected their decision, and wrote my own post first, and shared theirs in the comments.
It had a profound effect on me. It made me think.
So many people have suffered in 2020. Some have been suffering for a much longer time, through generations. That kind of pain cannot be cured overnight.
Which led me to create the photo you see above. The Patchwork Heart is my creative interpretation of what countless people must be feeling right now. I am going to share what I did to create it, as I feel it deserves a bit of an explanation.
I started by getting two blank white pieces of paper. I folded one in half and drew half a heart shape on it with a black marker. I then cut the heart out of the first piece of paper. I put the page with the heart cut out on the second page, to draw a second, identical heart. This one I colored black with the marker. I took the heart I cut out, and colored it red, with a different marker. When I had colored in both hearts, I got the scissors out again. I cut the red heart into pieces, which I glued to the black heart as if it was shattered, with a shadow behind where it used to be whole. When I had all of the pieces adhered to the black heart, I then gathered duct tape, paper tape, plastic bandage tape, and two band-aids. They are all layered to patch the pieces of the red heart together, intending to give it depth and dimension. Finally, I glued the first page, the one I cut the heart out of on top of the second page, to frame the Patchwork Heart. It turned out better than I imagined it would.
Why did I feel the need to explain the art you see in the picture above the article? To make sure you, the reader understand exactly what you are looking at. It is a shattered heart, with its pieces hovering above the shadow of what it used to be, held together by layers of tape and bandages, trying to keep beating through its sufferance. That is the concept I had when I started writing this article.
Now that you know what you are looking at, it is time to go a little deeper into the meaning of my art, thoughts, and words.
Reading my friend’s post made me realize that what has been going on in the world today, and throughout history caused grave wounds to humanity. Those of us, like me, who are on the sidelines watching it all happen before our very eyes, want to fix all that has gone wrong. There is no quick or easy fix to the issues we are struggling with in 2020.
Fear, hatred, anger, violence, and death are not easy to overcome. For some, the damage has been happening for such a long time, they do not know when it began. They cannot see the end, and they refuse to fight against what they cannot imagine changing. They suffer in solitude, keeping under the radar for their whole life until they die. Others react to every little thing because they have no tolerance left for the pain which has been inflicted on them. Dealing with the frustrations of what they see happening all around them is like throwing gasoline onto a fire. The tipping point has clicked a switch in them, and they are quiet no more. The instigating accelerant caused a volatile reaction and there is no sign of it slowing down. There is no common ground for neutral parties to parley. The division is so deep it may not ever be fully healed.
I want so badly to help my friends and neighbors around the world. If I could just share the message of hope with each and every person on the planet, it could change the tide. For now, the best I can do is to be patient while extending a hand to those who are reaching out to me for support. To be present in my life, and continue to pray that I am here long enough to make a difference in the world, be it small or large. I want to do more good in the world, but it is not possible for me to stop fear, hatred, anger, violence, or death by myself.
I know I am not alone.
You are not alone, either. You’ve got me.
Small actions add up to having a large effect. This can swing either way, positive or negative. I choose to focus on the positive and to share it for the world to see. Smiling at a stranger, complimenting another, sharing a moment with a friend, these are things I can do to help ease the pain of another, even if it only lasts for a fleeting moment. I am learning as much as I can about what others are going through. Sometimes knowing that a person cares about what you are struggling with can help to make the burden lighter by sharing it. There are more people like me who want to help, but also realize that by trying, even from the right angle, they may make things worse before things can get better. That is the last thing I want to do. So I do what I can in my day to day, and keep on hoping that it will be enough to help ease another’s pain. A first aid box is not likely to cure a shattered heart, but it might have what is needed to strengthen the patch job which is already failing.
Besides medical attention, wounds need to be cleaned and given enough time to heal. Sharing positivity and hope can be an effective disinfectant for the wounds you cannot see. Time is not measured to a certain length to heal this type of injury. It is necessary. Take all the time you need, to feel brave enough to trust again. If you do not try to change what is wrong, it will never improve. Be patient while others do what they need to do to recover themselves from the trauma of 2020. It has been a rough ride, with so many twists and turns that the end is not as close as it should be right now.
I am sorry for all of the pain I see around the world while I stand on the sidelines. I want to help, and I am standing ready, with a smile on my face, a box of tissues, my first aid kit, and a safe place for you inside my heart. If you should choose to reach out and ask for help. Healing cannot be forced, it happens naturally. We need to trust the process, clean the wound so it does not fester, and air it out when it is safe.