Saturday, January 25, 2014

Walking in the Shoes of the Masters and Trail Blazers

"The Neptunes -- Trumpeteers" 1st in the Neptune series 11 x 14 acrylic
Sometimes the most mundane things can trigger the subject for an article. While I was mulling over what to wear Friday night, my eyes fell on my choice of shoes. The weather was colder than usual in Florida, and I was lamenting the fact that all I had were sandals; a result of living in southern climes where the weather is usually warm year round.
I found a closed-in pair of black patent tennis shoes which should have been the end of that; but instead, I thought about shoes for the rest of the day. Not my shoes mind you, but those of others: the people on this earth and those who have gone before us who leave behind their achievements, their example, their courage, strength and love.
Work in Progress "The Neptunes -- Golden Girls" 11 x 14 acrylic
How do I fill the shoes of my mother, for instance, who had more courage in her little finger than most people have in a life time? Or the shoes of my sister, who struggled with multiple sclerosis a major part of her life, yet never complained and always had a smile on her face?

I don’t know about you, but the master painters of yesteryear have left behind some rather large shoes that artist’s of today, including me, must fill. Who is your inspiration? Who do you try to emulate?

Some of us get distracted by glitter and glitz. We jump into the shoes of the bombastic, the bully, or the billionaire’s expensive and glamorous Cesare-Paciotti’s trying to imagine what it would feel like. There’s not a “Techie” alive who doesn’t want to become another Bill Gates. But do you really want to experience his cancer, his pain?

We all have our lone walk to the end of our days. Our path is unknown. It may be rocky and filled with terror. The harder we struggle, the more apt we are to get blisters and calluses. Our shoes may become worn and dusty. We look “at the other guy,” and we think his road, his load is easier to bear. Not!
An American Indian proverb goes like this: “Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins.” Sometimes we think we know a person and what his or her life might be like, but unless we walk in their shoes, we can only guess. We fail to see their heartache and pain.

The trail blazers who go before us can show us how to persevere. They can enlarge our vision and teach us skills. They can inspire us to emulate them, follow them, and walk in their footsteps, but we can never fill their shoes nor replace them. We must forge ahead on our own two feet in our own uniquely soiled shoes.
Many years ago, I wrote a short play for the youth of our church called: “In the Shoes of the Master.” In the script, a teenager is trying to choose what kind of shoes he will wear and what kind of life he wants to live. The shoemaker represents the seductive snares that we all encounter as we make choices.

Of course, in the beginning the young man chooses a pair like the rock star he admires; his female counterpart selects a pair that shimmers and shines. At this point in their lives, it is all about the fame, the money, and the sizzle.
As the play progresses, the youth experience some of the downfalls of their choices. They suffer crudities, experience failure, and come up against hurdles they don’t know how to overcome. They want new shoes (or a new life). When they go back to the shoemaker, they see on the shelf a pair they failed to notice before: a dusty, worn-out pair of sandals. In this instance, the shoes of Jesus Christ “the master” of life.

Our choices are not always this clear. We stumble, we fall, and we pick ourselves up. History can teach us who and what to emulate. Experience can show us those things that outlast time and prove to be of great worth. Choose which moccasins you want to wear and make your own footprints in the sand.

"The Neptunes -- Octoband" 11 x 14 acrylic