Freedom from Want

Freedom from Want, by Norman Rockwell

The Thanksgiving hiatus brought a welcome balm to my overworked soul.  I journeyed to my boyhood home outside St. Louis, Missouri, and enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with my parents, siblings and their children that took on the spirit of this Norman Rockwell painting posted above (I was so delighted to see that painting at a show this past summer at Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum).  Along with the excellent food came several days of snowy weather that yielded a quantity of watercolor attempts and hours of reading pleasure from James Joyce.  I plan to post more on that later.  I had read Joyce’s Portrait back in the late 1980’s, and was moved by it then, but moved much more profoundly during this recent odyssey.  I was of course glad that talk around our Thanksgiving table wasn’t filled with the toxic religious debate featured in the Joyce novel during their Thanksgiving.

At the risk of sounding Buddhist, I want to say a word about Thanksgiving and the ability to let go.  The painting above is part of an important Rockwell series, and Freedom from Want is a theme that resonated with me throughout this recent break and in recent days back on the job here in Texas.  The human condition is often overwhelmed with this sense of want, particularly a desire directed toward something that is not easily sated.  I often wonder if part of growing up is realizing that life can improve immeasurably to the proportion that one is able to let go.  I’m reminded of some of Henry David Thoreau’s dry humor in Walden:

. . . a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.

One of the more painful lessons I’ve endured in life is learning to relinquish things that bring more pain than pleasure.  Of course there is always talk from the other side about high-yield risks, but one can never lose what s/he doesn’t put out on the table.  So much gets put out there in life that yields no return, or worse still, yields pain that we are better off without.  Freedom from want.  I’m a little better tonight because of some hard lessons learned along that vein.  Perhaps this is one of my better Thanksgiving seasons.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.





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