Archive for April 20th, 2011

Self Portrait-- Jon Sarkin

I was sent a link by a friend in response to yesterday’s post that really sparked some thought early this morning as I read it.  It was a story about author Amy Nutt’s book, Shadows Bright as Glass, which concerns itself with the story of Jon Sarkin.

  Sarkin had been a chiropractor until a day in 1988 when he experienced a stroke which transformed his life in a way.  He began to paint voraciously,  trying to express somehow the new self he suddenly identified in the aftermath of the damage done to his brain by the stroke.  He knew that he was somehow changed, could sense that there were parts of his mind that had transformed him into what he felt was a completely different person.  Painting allowed him a vocabulary to express the new sensations he was experiencing.

It made me think about my own accident years ago and the transformation that has taken place in the time since.  I often think of my life before that time as almost another life in another person’s mind, even though I still feel the continuum of my existence.  I am the same but different.   I can’t put my finger on it exactly but  know that  it has been the seed for much of my work over the years, a seeking and expressing of true identity. 
In the Ken Burns’ documentary Baseball, which I’ve been viewing this week in the studio, someone described Babe Ruth after his death as the most natural, unaffected person he had ever met.   He was what he was.  This made me think of this same concept of identity.  How many of us are perceived as what  we really are?  Does anyone ever really know anyone’s true and central self?  I wondered how many of us live in lives that are counter to our inner identities, constantly struggling in our minds, perhaps on a very subconscious level, with maintaining an outer face that we sense is not our true self?  It seems to me that this conflict in ourselves would be the source of much unhappiness in this world.  I know it was for me.
I don’t know if there are answers to be found.  Yet.  We still seem to be in the earliest stages of knowing how the brain and  the mind connect and  interact but given the acceleration of  discovery and technology over the past few decades, we may know more soon.  For now, we are who we are.  Or at least, who we appear to be.

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