essential [uh-sen-shuh l] Adjective 1. absolutely necessary; indispensable:
When you think of the word essential, you think of dictionary definition number one; absolutely necessary. You rarely think of the word in terms of definition number four; spontaneous.
But in the medical field definition number four is, apparently, valid. And so it is that I find myself diagnosed with something called Essential Tremors. You might see why I would take issue with the name. When you first hear about it, it sounds like something you can’t live without. How fortunate - one might think - that I am one of the 10 million people in the world who get to have this indispensable nerve condition. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that in this case we are using a more rarely (read: never before) applied definition of the word.
Essential Tremor (ET) is a nerve disorder characterized by uncontrollable shaking in different parts and on different sides of the body. Areas affected often include the hands, arms, head, larynx, tongue, and chin. ET is not a life-threatening disorder, unless it prevents a person from caring for him or herself. Most people are able to live normal lives with this condition -- although they may find everyday activities like eating, dressing, or writing difficult. It is only when the tremors become severe that they actually cause disability.
You might feel I’m making light of something serious - and that’s probably true. A defense mechanism? Perhaps. But I’d like to think it has more to do with perspective. It is not a life threatening diagnosis. It does not, at least for the time being, significantly alter my quality of life. I have many friends and family members facing much more serious illnesses and disorders, so it’s safe to say this pales in comparison.
It does, however, have serious implications for my work as an artist. For the time being (and on the recommendation of my doctor) I will not be painting - at all. This is partly to reduce fatigue and pursue the most effective treatment options, and partly because I am at times unable to draw a straight line. As one who takes great pride and whose work relies heavily on precision (see previous post on ‘craftsmanship’), this constitutes a serious obstacle.
Being an artist is part of who I am, so there is certainly a sense of loss as I consider this diagnosis. I believe God has wired me with a passion to create and appreciate art, which is a reflection of His own creativity and passion. This diagnosis does not make me any less an artist. It does, however, make me a significantly less prolific artist, and has serious implications for my work going forward.
Just Looking Gallery, it should be noted, has been unbelievably supportive during this time. When we began working together years ago, I could not have imagined an artist/gallery relationship that would have been so rewarding. Regardless of what comes next, Ralph Gorton and Ken McGavin have given me the opportunity to fulfill a dream. They have not only been champions of my work, but have become friends in the process. Even now they are giving me all the time I need to seek treatment, to discover options, and consider what the future holds for me as an artist in their gallery. I am exceedingly grateful.
For those of you who have been kind enough to follow my work, you will see fewer updates, as I currently have no works in progress. For those of you on the waiting list for commissioned work, I’m afraid you will have to continue to wait with me as we see what the future holds.
Thank you to friends and collectors for all of the encouraging notes. I am humbled. I will update further as events warrant, but for now I wait patiently for medication to take effect and for rest to restore better functionality to my incorrigibly uncooperative hand. In the meantime, I turn my attention to those things which are truly essential - a sovereign God, a loving family, and great friends.