Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Cut Fingers, Music and Life Changing Moments.

Having suffered a spell of painters block has given me much time to reflect. The positive side of this is that it has reinforced the idea that such times are often the moments of change and from the empty low points comes the next stage of creativity. I remember one just such moment in my life that did in fact become life changing. As readers of this blog know I started out as a butcher and working in a slaughterhouse. Not the most intellectually taxing job on the planet. But then I had been told that I was not one of life’s intellectuals. Well after a number of years getting through and getting by with playing in a band some evenings and working during the day. Making and spending too much money on pursuits that could only lead to disaster came two events that were to change my life. The first was just a simple cut finger.

I had cut my finger badly and had to go to hospital to have it stitched. So with a towel wrapped round it I presented myself at accident and emergency. I was told to go and sit in the waiting area and to keep the finger raised as much as possible and I would be attended to soon. After a bit a lady appeared with a mop and pail. She asked if I could move to another seat while she mopped up the blood dripping from my elbow. I waited. Some time later a nurse came and asked me what I was waiting for. Well. I am waiting for that bit floor over there to dry was my response. The finger was stitched but I had made up my mind there and then that I was finished with the playing silly it was time to have a rethink about my life.

At the same time a new minister had arrived in my home town. Now that was not something that interested me, having been brought up by a father who was positively anti-religion. This minister came to visit me. Brave man really. After putting up with my tirade against religion we started to talk. It turned out he was a real wonderful guy. Deeply caring, and with a head full of good thoughts and great ideas. It seemed he had a group of young people writing new hymns. Trouble was he said they could not write music, “Would I consider giving them just a little of my time to help them?” Life changing moment. It was not to be too much later I was to head off to Iona a little Island off the coast of Scotland. But that is for another day and another time.

For today my thought is this. That the low and the bleak times should never been seen as the end in themselves. They can so easily become the turning points, the beginning of something better. Somebody made a comment that I knew nothing about art. They were right I do not. This much I do know though it has become very much a part of my life and has given me a motive to get up in the morning and to rejoice that I still seem to be able to bring some joy to the lives of others. So here is to all the painters blocks taking place right now. May they be life changing moments that go on to enhance the world of art. When I was a minister of religion I used to call these moments, “Dark nights of the soul”. What could we invent for the painters block, because it sounds more like something for beheading that the birth of new creativity? Has anybody go any suggestions? I have started to call my block moments my, “Moments under the rainbow.” I apologise for this little meander this morning, but it has been good to reflect back.

Can I say at that this blog never ever sets out to upset or offend but to open up routes for discussion. Ralph


  1. Hi Ralph, you can say that stuff in red but I only argue with friends. I like this particular blog about life changing events, taking this road or that one can alter the course of one's life. I think it is partially accidental, after all we could have just as easily taken the other road. What isn't accidental is what we pick up along the way. I always misquote it but somewhere in the Bible is a reference to the effect that you can send a horse to Rome and he will come home a better horse. Send a donkey to Rome and he will return a donkey. The Roman's believed in Vertue and Fortuna, the virtue of the man the the luck that he encounters. I believe in these elements also, probably giving 60% to the just plain luck side. It was a desire to get out of construction and just plain luck that brought me to artistic welding, and another piece of luck that brought me to painting. and I still don't know anything about art, but I know what I like!!!

  2. Well said Jerry. The luck stuff I need to consider I am not sure I go along with the concept of luck but I sure know what you mean. Glad you liked the block I was thinking about the horse and Rome. Here in Scotland we have a saying you may also have. You can take the working man out of the working class but you cant take the working class out of the man. Not sure if I fully agree but hey it is well known here. I have also heard it said, You can take the man out of Govan but you can never take Govan out of the man. Govan being a well known part of Glasgow.

  3. There is a bit of luck that you live in Scotland and I am from Oregon and neither of us are from Haiti. a bit of bad luck that I have Hodgkin's Desease (they have no idea what causes it). There are over 5 Billion people on the planet, there is a bit of luck that we even met. a bit of luck that we don't get blown up in an airplane, a bit of luck that I was introduced to painting just one year ago, I could go on and on.
    My point is, given this luck, what do we do with it?