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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is racing.

“They’re gaining on us!” the actor yells, and it is such a familiar feeling that we empathize immediately. Racing ahead, winning or losing, measuring oneself against some invisible yardstick is the stuff of being human, it seems. And as exhilarating as it may sometimes be, our language is replete with the expressions of despair that racing can engender.

I would like to chalk this feeling of time running out to our modern world, but even in the nineteen century, Thoreau wrote of its effects on the spirit when he said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” (Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862) We may say it more humorously now (“Some days you eat the bear… some days the bear eats you.”), but the underlying feelings of pressure and despair are still there.

Despair is that sinking feeling accompanied by less-than-joyful thoughts like, “You are falling behind, your life is going by, others are getting ahead while you are here stuck in the quicksand.” This is not a mind spurring on evolution or personal growth, this is simply the nattering of an Unhappy Mind. But it’s a state of mind that I can easily become lost in, especially in this ever-driven culture. Perhaps it is also the state of mind that drives humans to buy more, have more, do more and be more in a very unbalanced and (dare I say it?) psychotic way?

When I catch myself in this mind trap once again, I try to remember that who I really am is Infinite. The pressures of time and comparison lighten, and I remind myself that in this present moment of this life, all I have to do is the next thing in front of me. Life becomes simple, and unfolds itself from this moment like a red carpet rolling out before the movie star. All I have to do is trust that it is so.

An Indian proverb says, “When we take one step toward God, he takes seven steps toward us.” Insert “the Mystery” for God here, and this becomes a non-denominational guide for Life. I take heart.

Now… back to working on that book dummy…


“Cloud Racing” (watercolor, pen & ink, gesso, gouache)

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