The Art of Mirriam Neal

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It’s been a hard year, for a lot of reasons. The last few months have been especially difficult. We’ve spent a lot of time weeping and shaking angry fists at the sky and snapping at one another when tempers boil to the surface. It feels like difficulty upon difficulty has been heaped on our heads and we’re not sure how to deal with all of it, like it’s crushing us, pushing us into the ground. We’ve had the uncertainty of where we’re going to live and the mingled emotions that come with the house not selling, we’ve been unsatisfied with ourselves but reluctant to change, and two days ago my dad’s brother and the last of his first family died of a sudden heart attack. I despise hypocrisy, so I won’t say I feel his loss very keenly – I hardly knew him, and mentally associated him with corny jokes. (He had a bumper crop of them, if you will.) But this has been a huge blow to my father, whom I love and care about, and the whole family has taken the brunt of the news.

During times like these, it’s hard to see much good in the big picture, and it becomes more important than ever to me to notice the small things. To stand outside and let the wind, smelling of spring, push my hair back while the clouds sail quickly in front of the moon. To smile at the ladybug who comes out of nowhere and lands on my shirt, like a small attack-hug from a stranger. Surprise notes from friends in the mail. In these brief moments, it’s like I can take a breath and get my head above water again, but the relief doesn’t last long. I hate conflict. I hate it. I will go ten miles out of my way to avoid it and I’ll think that all the tension is rolling off my back while my insomnia and dreams where my teeth fall out tell me otherwise. I can write maybe a paragraph a day, and summoning enough creative energy to work on my looming pile of art commissions feels like a monumental effort (and I usually scrap my attempts anyway because they suck).

Surrounded by family and with friends I love only a text or Skype call away, I still feel very alone. Even as I try harder to cultivate a deeper relationship with God, I find myself longing for a physical relationship, for that thing called romance. I received a friend’s wedding invitation in the mail and I cried, because while I try to do everything right, I still don’t have a Significant Other, nor do I have any prospects.

In short, I feel like I’m trying harder and failing more epically than ever before. However, in the middle of this seemingly endless swamp, one truth remains – I’m running toward God, instead of sitting and accomplishing nothing. This particular life-dragon is chasing me in the right direction and sometimes, that’s enough.

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