It’s funny how sometimes it’s the small things in life which make all the difference.
A kind word here, a smile there, an appreciative comment, a meal made for you when you arrive or a bath run, an offer of help, a text message saying ‘thinking of you’. We can be facing terrible trials of hardship, battling against odds which seem insurmountable, coping with grief or terrible illness or maybe just feeling down or ‘under the weather’ – things for which there may be no simple answer – and yet these odd acts of kindness can give us hope again.
I’ve been blessed by two such acts this week; both artistic in their own way and both coming at a time when I’m battle-weary, despairing a little of mankind, struggling with illness and overcoming an injury. Both raised my spirits considerably.
The first is a genuinely beautiful piece of art from a good friend (she’s a very private person so I won’t name her) which now hangs up on my wall in front of my desk. It says ‘insha’Allah’ in Arabic which means, roughly ‘as God wills’. For many reasons I’m not yet ready to talk about, this phrase has come to mean a great deal to me over the last 18-24 months. I’ve waited quite some time for my dear friend to send it but it was worth the wait. The painting is in front of me where I work so that I never forget it and never forget to keep hope in my heart even when things get pretty bleak.
The second piece of art is a complete contrast to the first. This one came from a friend who used to be a student of mine. When I last saw Bryony seven years ago she was just a young girl. She’s grown up a lot since then!
What was nice to see though was that her quirky, fun and slightly zany way of thinking about life doesn’t seem to have changed a bit from when she was a child. On her Facebook page Bryony wrote the following a few days ago:
I’ve had an idea…
From below you can probably gather that I cannot draw to save my life, BUT I’ve realised over the past however long, some people find them quite hilarious.
So here’s the plan…
1. Drop me an inbox of something you’d like me to ‘draw’, this can be a self portrait (if you promise not to be offended) or your favourite animal or anything.
2. I’ll spill all my artistic creativity onto a blank page 😉 and when I give it to you all I ask is for £1… Or less or more, whatever change you have at the time.
3. Any pennies that I may collect over (insert a certain period of time here) I will pass on to Great Ormond Street Hospital 🙂
(All drawings will be original and signed/dated by lil ol’ me 🙂 )
This really appealed to me; it’s exactly the kind of thing which gives me real hope for humanity – something which is fast dwindling for me. What I love is that Bryony isn’t attempting to present herself as the next Van Gogh or even a dab hand with a pencil. She has just decided to do something crazy, something fun, for a good cause.
And her friends have come to her in droves and with all sorts of requests. One friend asked for this:
‘I want you to draw “six elephants standing on top of exactly 785 isosceles triangles”. For this image I will pay ten of the Queen’s English’
So she did.
Over a few days Bryony has drawn dozens of pictures. Here’s two of my favourites:
All rather mad.
My request was simpler.
“ I would love a picture of me playing the sitar (pics on my facebook or blog) with Beatles-like psychedelic imaginings coming out of my head“
Mine was the first of her pictures to use colour so I was especially touched. Personally I think it is a perfect likeness of me!
Maybe her pictures will never hang up in the National Portrait Gallery but a worthy charity is going to be a few (quite a few) pounds better off as a result of this completely barmy and wonderfully silly idea. It may not go viral, it might not solve the Israeli-Palestine conflict, it might not lead to a cure for a cancer and Bryony might not end up writing a best seller book about her experiences from doing these drawings – but for a brief moment in time she’s brought a smile to the faces of many, contributed to society in a worthy manner and made this world just a tiny little bit nicer. Albeit nice bordering on insane.
I’m honoured to know both these friends, so very different in their characters, backgrounds and approaches to life. Both have reminded me that we all have ways in which we can help each other out and make life meaningful, easier, better or just plain bonkers. We don’t need to be brilliant, clever, witty or wise. We don’t need to be the best, or energetically outgoing, or attempt to raise thousands for charity.
We just need to make the effort to put in a little more than we take out. Doesn’t have to be much but it does add up.