The Charlie Bravo Story

Crystal Bridges

Dad here; typical early January Sunday morning at the Casa. Cold and rainy outside, the dogs have all reclaimed their respective positions inside on the bed, with the exception of Mr Stubb. For some reason, he has never shown much interest in staking his claim under the covers, instead choosing to serenade me with his snores wafting up from his position on the floor.

Just as professional practical jokers usually avoid April Fool’s Day as amateur hour, Charlie and I tend to refrain from posting immediately after most holidays or events. It’s much like making gumbo; it’s often best to wait a bit, to let the flavors marinade from many into one, but here goes…

2020 was just a number, as is 2021; I hate to tell you this, but there is no restart button based on a 2″ square on the calendar. This is not meant to be discouraging, but just the opposite; it can simultaneously be the best of times and the worst of times, according to what we focus upon.

I recently found this quote from Johnny Cash: “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” This reminds me so much time Charlie spends reflecting on her time in the crate; ain’t nobody got time for that, as there’s too much flouncing that needs to be accomplished.

I recently took a trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR, the most incredible recollection of man’s passage across this continent I have ever experienced. Not that I give an ingrown toenail for what Time magazine usually says about anything, but even they proclaimed it to be “the most important museum west of the Mississippi River”.

Of course, I was blown away by the works by Rockwell, Warhol, Remington, Durand, Audobon, Wyeth, the Iroquois, and on and on; I’ve often thought those that sat and contemplated art as being a bit pretentious, but I was wrong. There were many pieces that I could have sat in front of many pieces for an entire day in a futile attempt to soak it in.

But as usual, the real revelation came later, actually on my way back home through the Ozark mountains. It occured to me that all of these stunning works were created by ordinary men and women who were no doubt suffering and enjoying the exact same emotions that we are today. I’m sure that Rockwell had bills that were past due, that the Wyeth family was probably arguing about who was going to bring what to Christmas potluck, that Remington’s wife was spending a bit too much time with the grandkids so Frederick decided to go on a trip out west and happened to get bored and paint some cowboys.

The point is, each of them had no idea that the art they were producing in the midst of their own personal vortex while the trials of life continued to howl around them would someday be appreciated by millions. They weren’t doing it for the fame, or the money; they were doing it because they had to. In the words of Ezekiel, they “had a fire shut up in their bones”, and the only relief was to let it out; anything less and the flame would have consumed them.

What we do in this life echoes throughout eternity, regardless of what we might be currently experiencing. Charge forth, let your gift make a difference, regardless of what the naysayers would have you believe; there is no other you that can do you better than you can.

“If I hold back, I’m no good. I’d rather be good sometimes, than holding back all the time.”- Janis Joplin

We be of one blood, ye and I.

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