My most recent “Endurance Story” happened in Charleston, SC.
In the middle of a sun-baked park. Surrounded by several years of my artwork. Protected only by a 10″ x 10″ tent. For an endless string of 17 straight days.
By the end of DAY ONE — all I could think was…
“How did this ever sound like a good idea?”
At this point in the story however, that was not really a question worth pursuing. The more pressing matter was “How will I ever get through this? 16 more days? Are you kidding me!!?”
My story took place during the 2017 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Festival.
If you are interested in what it looked like, here are some photos I took during the very last hours, of the very last day, of this marathon outdoor art show. All the photos are views from within a 10″ radius of what had become my 10″ x 10″ outdoor home during the past 17 days.
A lot went RIGHT during most of those days.
But it was what went wrong that kept me on the brink of fear for the better part of those 17 days. Fear that was not logically necessary‚ but nonetheless REAL inside my anxious body and troubled mind.
There were many days when I passed the time planning my escape strategy. How we could come back in the middle of the night, spend a couple of hours packing everything up, and then drive back home to our real life before anybody would even notice.
But then there was the small issue of the after hour/all night security guards. And all the questions. And my pride. And the fact that I would be black-listed from this show for eternity. Not to mention that I didn’t want to abandon my neighbors who had become sweet friends to me in the midst of this shared experience.
The biggest thing that kept me from packing up early and not finishing up my commitment was this — “How could I ever expect Nathan to become a person of integrity and character, if he sees his mom bail out early from her only art show of the entire year? Just because it was hard.”
So then I asked my parents what they thought on the second-to-last day of the show…
“Would it be terrible if I left tonight and went home before the show ends tomorrow?”
Their kind, yet wise answer was this…
“We will support you in whatever you feel you need to do. But you should really think about how you will feel a month from now if you leave early.”
So I stayed.
Until the very last minute. Of the very last day. It truly doesn’t even sound like that big deal. To even ME. (Now that it is over.)
But those 17 days were about the hardest I have experienced in YEARS. (Which makes me realize that my life is ridiculously small and soft — compared to the real suffering faced by most people in this world.)
How did I Endure?
This will sound too simple. Or maybe unbelievable. But it is the honest truth.
On the first day when I started to panic… I took my phone into the hotel bathroom and texted one of my best friends. “Can you please pray for me?” I knew she would. And she did. And a physical feeling of relief poured through my body within minutes.
Turns out she was praying for me from her vacation in France that I didn’t even know about until it was half-way over. And she wasn’t the only one — praying on my behalf when I couldn’t even think straight.
I am forever grateful for this “work” of my loved ones which I know in my bones is what helped me to survive.
My feelings of anxiousness came and went throughout my days. And nights. And there definitely seemed to be a correlation with the rising temperatures, along with how much (and even what) I was eating and drinking. It also seemed that when I was just sitting and waiting for somebody to pass by to talk to — that my mind would begin to race and turn towards panic.
So I tried to keep myself busy. And even talk to and hang out with the other artists, despite my usual tendency to keep completely to myself.
There were many other ways in which I simply held on for dear life during this crazy adventure in Charleston. But the most helpful encouragement was the Truth I found in reading my bible on the mornings when I took the time for it. And then speaking that Truth back to myself during the days.
“I am not in control. God is in control.”
Was this marathon art show a good idea? It depends on how you look at it. Financially — it was a complete and total bust.
But emotionally, physically, and spiritually? For how difficult it was, this insane amount of effort was probably well-worth the time and expense.
- I learned that even though it feels like it is imminent, my head is probably NOT going to explode. At least not any time soon.
- I realized that I am stronger than I had thought.
- I saw how I need to let people into my life to help me.
And then. When I was home and unpacked…I was inspired.
Inspired to create a new painting!
The photo which I painted from, was taken by my amazing husband who cheered me on and supported me through every single minute of this overwhelming experience.
Tim spent his days at our rental house working his job while I was at the show.
But he did take just one small part of one day off. For his idea of relaxation. Which is my idea of terror.
He took the photo that inspired my painting on his phone, while kayaking up and down the river that leads from Shem Creek into the Charleston harbor. Past boats and barges, and all kinds of super-dangerous-sounding things. Things that he just enjoyed with all his heart. Especially — the group of dolphins knocking at the bottom of his boat.
A painting called “Endurance.”
It is definitely not the best painting in the world. But it made me happy to simply create a piece to document how I felt while in Charleston those 17 endless days.
Completely out of control at most times — yet still trying to enjoy the views as I pushed through the difficulty of a hard experience.
I think I will always look back on this piece as a reminder that I am stronger than I feel, and that I can do more than I think I can. But most importantly — NOT in my own, solitary strength.
With a grateful heart to be back once again on Dry Land,
PS Do you have an Endurance Story? Leave it below in the comments. I would love to hear how you made it across the waters in a boat that felt much too small!
To see the entire collection of my paintings, visit www.mariescottstudios.com