The Illustration Friday word of the week is imperfect.
We recently finished watching the vintage British television series, “The Darling Buds of May,“ starring David Jason (of the British detective series, “A Touch of Frost”, fame) and a very young and nubile Catherine Zeta-Jones. It’s the saga of a 1950′s country family composed of Ma and Pop Larkin and their eight rambunctious kids, all living on a ramshackle farm in the English countryside. There’s quite a lot of food, generous amounts of alcohol of questionable provenance, lots of animals, green acreage and farm equipment. And there is, especially, a lot of love. (It’s not heady stuff, just light dinner and end-of-the-day “check out” entertainment. I found the dvd at the local library.)
The “lots of love” is the part that’s really stuck with me. Having grown up in a “family of origin” rife with parental criticism and completely lacking in democracy, the relationships that these very imperfect people have to one another, and to the other people who filter in an out of the series, could be as close to Unconditional Love and acceptance as I have seen in human relationships. No one ever says anything negative about the very overweight Ma (indeed, Pa is quite enamored with her), the annoying personality, snippy curiosity and intense gazes of the second-oldest daughter, the insipid manner of the tax man who Zeta-Jones marries early on, or even about the hair-brained schemes that Pa and Catherine’s new husband, Charley, get up to. They all love and encourage each other, adapt to each other’s foibles, and even manage to get on with their own dreams and lives. They have quite a few laughs along the way, and no one knows ‘best,’ not even Pa. No one is trying to change anyone else. Remarkable!
Imagine how you and I might have turned out if our early environment had looked like this? I know it’s just a TV series…but it must have been based on someone’s memories, or at least on someone’s longings. Didn’t you have a longing to be accepted and loved, no matter what? I know I did. Surely that desire must be universal! The absence of love and acceptance seems to be depressingly universal too. I have read, and noticed in myself too, that early parental and family criticism lodges itself firmly in a child’s psyche. We become critical of ourselves and others as well, simply as an habitual way of seeing the world. It is, alas, contagious! But it is also entirely reversible …one interaction, one moment at a time. We still have the opportunity to change the world–with kindness to ourselves and each other.
But why did I post “Goose” for this Illustration Friday’s word of the week, you may be wondering? Well, have you ever seen an animal look at another animal and say, “Your feathers are too long, your beak too yellow, the skin on your webs is absolutely gross, and where did you get that goop on your chin??” No, animals, seem to be very good at accepting the lumps, bumps and bulges of their fellow creatures…and they’ve got no fancy clothes to hide their cellulite behind, no Cover Girl makeup to disguise their blemishes. They present themselves As Is, and it seems to be working just fine for them.
Humans, let us take note.
“Goose” (watercolor, pen & ink)
Have you checked out the new Undercover Cover Art blog and contest site yet? Lots of great artwork being posted every week, and entry for your own version of a re-imagined book cover is still open. Voting is still open too… Vote for your favorite using the “stars,” which can be found on the “Comment” page under each image. (Click “Comment” under a particular image, then click a “star” to vote. Note: leaving a Comment is not the same as voting!) My entry, “The Girl with Silver Hands” would really appreciate your vote…thank you! (Voting ends August 30, 2011)