My fifty year-old Navy Veteran friend has been living in his van with two large dogs for almost three years.He can’t afford rent to live in his own place. He works a full time maintenance job on the night shift, and loves being left alone to do his job.
He is also an artist who expresses himself in welding, wood, ceramics and other sculpture materials and he loves making things. His perfect world would be to live/share a roof over his head and a garage for creation.
He stores art projects in my shed and comes over after work to work before he goes to sleep in a parking structure under the local police station. He doesn’t bother anyone, and has been parking there for over a year.
What’s interesting is my friend says he’s grateful, regardless of the difficulties he faces every day. He loves working the night shift, loves his dogs and enjoys making things when he can.
My grateful friend’s latest series includes plywood with a billion cuts with an electric hand saw. The pieces begin huge, and he cuts them up, and calls them his ‘maze’ works. He chooses a metaphor that explores endless dead ends, and holes leading to nowhere. For him, it’s about the titles, follow directions, no way out. The pieces seem ironic, since all deep grooves have no exit.
After working a couple of hours on my deck, my friend and I share a meal, talk about what we love about art and the depth of his gratitude.
He is a wonderful reminder that my attitude determines my life perception.