Rather than try to redress our humiliations by insisting on our slighted importance, we can, through the help of an artwork, endeavour to appreciate, our essential nothingness.

A sense of the sublime in our ordinary lives is usually a fleeting state, one that occurs more or less at random.

Art as Therapy- Alain de Botton and John Armstrong

Covid entry Aug 2020

There was something very British and yet completely European about the rooftops that summer’s night. The grey slates were hot and matt in tone, soaking in the sunset. Each roof interlaced with another like herringbone, pretty almost. 

 The woman had become malleable in the heat. The hot air demanded that she be still. Her body, silhouetted and statuesque oozed small beads of sweat from her top lip. A welcome breeze nudged her limp hair as it slipped through the open Velux window. That’s when a dole of doves flew past her window. They were strikingly white, smudging across the peachy scene like fingered pastels. Their heavy underbellies forced them to heave and coo, attempting to go higher with dainty wings.

The Velux framed her view nicely. Life imitating art. In that moment she saw life as abstract- an illustration. She noticed a dense invisibility as she stared, figuring ‘Life’ as an honest paradox. She felt connected to every atom in the world and yet she experienced it in a solitary state, entirely alone. 

 My life, she mused, is an outward breath- – – – – – – – 

Her life had been alchemic and uncontainable since the day she was born, expanding and evaporating. Growing and losing, learning and forgetting, trying and failing. Sometimes shouting and other times numbed and muted, happiness and sadness. She was once a child, now a mother.

Could it be that she was standing still for the very first time? In this moment, in front of the Velux, she stood and stared long enough to notice, at age twentynine, that one day there wouldn’t be an inward breath to revive her cells. Every day is a friendly nod to the end.

As strange as it may sound, she felt some comfort in finding peace. A deliverance in acknowledging the inevitable ending of everything. The pressure to exist in capitalist rhetoric was lifted. No need to thrive, to reach goals, to be happy nor to be good. There was no longer a need to be liked or loved by anyone else but herself.

Life is but a sensation she thought to herself. She had come into ‘being’ as a result of some natural algorithm – the collision of sperm and egg. Once upon a time we all inhabited the pelagic depths of a womb, unable to conceive of a life thereafter.

And yet here we all are.

After this sensation of life, a vast nothingness awaits- 

b     e     a     u     t      i      f      u     l                       

in it’s weightlessness. 

With every breath she visualised her own awakening shores advancing and relenting. This calmness led the woman to question the value of existence. She pondered how fleeting our occupancy of our bodies really is. 

She found a strength to be found in owning one’s mortality, and in turn uncovering a gratitude that she had never felt before. She was humbled by her ordinary self, like the flight of those doves who had caught her eye twenty minutes earlier. 

This is the stuff of existence, and it must be played out for as long as it lasts.

She was not afraid. 


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