I have been painting, a lot; and thinking, a lot. As usual, there is a story behind each painting. Or maybe it is the painting that is the story.
This is another painting in my Emerged series.
The Wave – Sunrise on Easter Island
24 x 36 inches
If you are following along with my Emerged Series, this painting comes in the middle of the story, when I have realized that I need a change but I am struggling through the process of change.
The reference photo for this painting was from my trip to Easter Island. We got up really, really early one morning and stood on the side of a cliff photographing the Sunrise.
A fellow photographer getting ready for sunrise.
Katsuyoshi Tanaka took this one of us after the sun came up.
This trip was when I started to come back to life, or more accurately, when I finally started living the life that was intended for me.
But before I get to that part, I should probably start at the beginning. So, here it is; the beginning of my journey Over the Picket Fence, the beginning of my Emergence. There are no paintings from this time in my life, well because I wasn’t painting then.
Over the Picket Fence – by Jamie Eppenauer
But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great ever came out of imitations. The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself . . .
Set aside what your friends expect, what your parents demand, what your acquaintances require.
Set aside the messages this culture sends, through it’s advertising, its entertainment, its disdain and its disapproval, about how you should behave. . .
Begin with that most terrifying of all things, a clean slate. And then look, every day, at the choices you are making and when you ask yourself why you are making them, find this answer: for me, for me. Because they are who and what I am, and mean to be. Anna Quindlen
Why do we as humans struggle so hard with the notions of being our authentic selves?
Why is the call for success and money so strong that we imprison ourselves in the constant quest for it?
Why is success defined more by what we accumulate than by what we leave behind?
Why is happiness so elusive?
I ask these questions because I have been striving the last several years to answer them. This is the story of me stepping over the Picket Fence. I am writing it for myself so I can understand things better and in the hope that it will help me to finally clear that last picket of the fence.
The story starts in Iona Scotland. Not that the story started here but this is where I became awake to it’s existence.
I left the responsibilities of Motherhood and Wifehood behind as I traveled to this remote island on the most Western Coast of Scotland with a friend for a spiritual retreat. The Self Embodiment Retreat was really insignificant in my plans. What I sought was a week of quiet adventure in the outdoors. Little did I realize it would change my life in ways I’m still coming to appreciate.
Iona is a small island, about a mile wide and four miles long, in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It has a population of around 120, not counting the resident sheep. It is the birth land of Christianity for much of Europe. As such some say the layer between heaven and earth is closer here.
Although often dismayed by Western organized religion, I have always had a very strong belief in God and the quiet voice in my heart that gives me direction when I choose to listen to it. I actually picture God as a person swinging on a hammock in my heart. Every once in a while I get so busy that I don’t take the time to lay in the hammock next to God and have a good conversation. That’s usually when life falls apart. When I choose to spend a little time swinging in the warm breeze with Him or Her, my life comes more in focus.
On Iona, when I took the time to sit a little with God, I started down a new path that I am still walking down. A path that seems so clear, but yet can be so hard to set foot on.
Actually, it started before we even reached the island.
To reach Iona, you have to fly to Scotland, take a train to the quint seaside town of Oban, then a ferry to Graingbough and a bus around the island of Mull where you catch another ferry to Iona. It was on this very bumpy crowded bus around the island of Mull, where I became separated from my travel companion, and met Keith. The end of Keith’s story was the beginning of my own.
Keith is a Methodist Priest who is wrapping up a sabbatical with a couple of days on Iona. During this quick 20-minute bus ride, he shared the story of how he came to the point in his life where he serves as a residential priest of a large estate. He compared his own journey to that of the children of God being lead by Moses to the Red Sea. The people were trapped at the gates of the Red Sea with the Romans at their backs and the sea in front of them. Then a “mighty wind blew” and the sea parted in front of them. The same thing happened in his life, where he felt trapped and waiting. And then a wind blew through and within eight days his new lot in life was determined.
My week of Self Embodiment on Iona did not leave me radically changed. But the winds of change started blowing while I was there. That was the beginning of the realization for me that I too was trapped at the entrance of the Red Sea but my Red Sea was the White Picket Fence that surrounded my Western lifestyle. Instead of Romans hot on my trail, it was the trappings of the modern world that sought to hold me and repress me. I had failed in my attempts to live in the World but not of the World. On the other side of the sea, the White Picket Fence that surrounded my life, laid my true self. This was the beginning of the transformation to a new life.