A Short Story About a Cloud and a Fire

Having so enjoyed creating the Deconstructed Aloes series, and celebrating the business development success I’ve been enjoying in recent months, I went to bed with a very full and happy heart, looking forward to creating a series of Deconstructed Proteas the next day. But the next morning I woke to an unexpected and very worrying new development…

I had a new cloud in my left eye.

I live with the knowledge that I have very fragile retinas that could bust a new hole or detach any time, with very low chances of successful repair. For the most part, I don’t think much about this scary possibility of losing more vision, but when I do, it changes me. It gets me clearer about what’s important to me, more discerning about what I give my attention and energy to, and much bolder, braver, and more motivated to use my life to do the things that are important to me. The last time this happened, I launched this new home for my work here at CathDuncan.com and got serious about becoming a working artist. 🙂

Though I appreciate these ways that fear has changed me, the fear hits hard, and it brings back all of my past medical trauma. And that’s where I found myself that morning last week. Gripped by fear, vision blurry from both the new cloud and my tears, my head foggy and my body beginning to ache from the adrenalin rush.

Gratefully, my wonderful retinal specialist said he could squeeze me in during his lunch break at 2pm. Anxious waiting periods are a part of my life as someone who lives with chronic illness, but they never get easier, and this 7 hour wait felt like the most dreadful wait I’ve ever had to endure.

To my great relief, my retinal specialist reported that my retinas were still intact and had not sprung any new holes. Instead, the cause of the new cloud was something I hadn’t considered or ever heard of – a tiny bleed at the back of my eye. Apparently it’s benign and common, and has nothing to do with my other body weirdnesses, and clears off on its own without intervention.

I left the doctor’s office feeling like I got to walk away from my own execution.

A new fire

That afternoon, and the next day, I was exhausted from the terror hangover, my body still ached, and my head was still foggy. I felt like I had fallen apart, but just gently enough to be able to find most of the pieces and put them back together again … along with some new additional pieces…

… a deeper appreciation for the value of my vision and the miracle of getting to make, see, and enjoy art,

… greater clarity and connection to the sense that I am an artist and this is how I’m meant to use my time, energy, and skills,

… a stronger desire to make art,

… less head-shit about whether my art “looks good” or is understood or appreciated by others, is “meaningful” or has a clear, recognisable style,

… and even more gratitude for the amazingness of the 20% vision I still have left, and the fact that I’m getting to do all of this, AND IT SEEMS TO BRING OTHER PEOPLE JOY TOO!!!

I’m thrilled with the four Deconstructed Proteas I went on to create with this new clarity and fire. It was the most easy and pleasurable art-making process I think I’ve ever experienced. I was working in a braver way than ever, and the head-shit didn’t even try to show up!

I think perhaps the clarity, ease, and joy I felt as I worked has come through in these four Proteas, because I posted this photo of the four artworks on Facebook and someone messaged me immediately and bought them before the artworks were even dry! And her delight about her purchase has been such pure joy to witness.

Life sure is full of surprises, hey? Awful surprises and awe-filled surprises. It’s all there. What a crazy ride. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll be over here, making art. And feeling so grateful for all the support that’s making it possible for me to do so.

These four Deconstructed Protea originals are sold, but you can purchase prints.