I think it was about this time last year that I was sitting on my parent’s front porch suppressing my suicidal urge. It was especially intense that morning, and the scary thing was that I was home alone. Well, to the human eyes, I was alone. But I knew I wasn’t. I knew I had the one, the only one that could save me.
I still vividly remember the vision God showed me that morning. It was a perfectly sunny spring weather in Tennessee. In contrast to the bright weather, my mind was as dark as it could be. The contrast, as always, was pushing my suicidal urge even further. I recently read an article regarding a sudden rise in suicide rate among the mentally ill during the spring time. May and June are the months that record the highest suicide rate, and the article suggested several scientific paths that may explain this seemingly illogical epidemic. But the answer is simple. Let’s not over-think this. The contrast between light and darkness becomes the most dangerous psychological weapon.
On that porch that morning in June, of course, I was crying hysterically. I was crying so hard that I couldn’t breathe. As a matter of fact, I was in so much fear for myself, and for my life, that I started having full-blown panic attacks. For better or worse, panic attacks do have a positive effect on calming down my mind and body once they are had. Panic attack is quite a powerful channel to release the intense emotions that are too dangerous to my physical survival. As I sat there lifelessly, waiting for my racing heart rate to calm down, a vision came. A vision that I would remember for the rest of my life, a vision that would save me from my every suicidal moment, a vision that would make everything better. It was a vision that would end my personal war against suicide for good.
In front of my eyes were a mega-sized armies. They were running with great power towards me with swords in their hands. The number was so great that it appeared to be a giant cluster of dark energies with dusts all around it as it was approaching fast. Then I saw a man in his white robe. A defender, whose one hand was stretched out to protect me standing behind him, glued to his body. I knew who that man was. It was my Jesus.
At at point, my heart came to a complete stop. I was so stunned by the image I saw. My dark thoughts consisting of fear, anxiety, grief, sadness, and loneliness suddenly vanished, and I was at perfect point of peace. My mind and heart were transformed instantly. I can still see the vision from that morning with such clarity. If I could draw, I would spend the rest of my life painting what I saw that day. But no painting can come close to the image that I have in my mind.
It so easy to decide to close down the new business when it clearly is attacking my mental balance. With my bipolar condition, was it wise to start a business of my own? It seemed like a good idea during my hypomania. But after my fifth anxiety attack in just one week, it is so easy, even natural, for me to think things over and question myself. Did I make a mistake?
Maybe I did, or maybe I didn’t. After all, I am only on my fourth week.
A staff writer from a local newspaper called me back today for a brief phone interview. He graciously offered to put a column about my gallery in the community section. The call came so suddenly, almost as sudden as that vision I saw on the front porch last year. Well, maybe not THAT dramatic and life-changing. But still, I was quite surprised and nervous once we were connected. I can’t remember all that I said to his deep questions, because my fast racing side of brain -a typical bipolar trait- was very much activated at that particular moment. I said a million words to him, but my message was simple. I told him that my inspiration was to preserve the dying culture of art. I want to protect art from becoming another victim of mass-production.
Of course, this gallery business comes with a mission. I wouldn’t have started it otherwise. You just don’t come into the world of art with money in mind. My mission is to protect the artists, ‘the dying breed’. Van Gogh was my inspiration, and my only hope was to connect the lonesome, often solitary, and burdened souls of artists with the world. Which was why I named it “The Art Connect”. What I wanted to connect through the medium of the art was, in fact, “the heart”. I believed, and still believe that the world can be transformed by the power of beauty. The more beauty we see, the more beautiful our hearts will become. Cultivating beauty, was my mission, and the gallery was the field where we sow the seeds of beauty together.
But yesterday, driving back from the gallery in the passing rain storm, I could not help but asking myself: Am I over-thinking all this? Am I like the writer who was over-thinking about the Spring’s high suicidal rates?
It has been quite a day. An almost full-blown anxiety attack at work. My manager was only a second away from making a 911 call. Then a formal meeting with an artist at the gallery. A nerve-wrecking drive home in the severe rain storm. A phone interview with the local paper. Working until my mind gave out making flyers and banner signs. I did all these with my underlying thought that kept playing the questions: ‘What am I doing? Do I even know what I am doing? Is this just another big mess, one of my many disastrous creations?’
I finally turned off the computer and went to bed. There, I held onto that vision God has shown me on that suicidal spring morning. While the rate of suicides was running high all over the world, I was saved once and for all, because of that one vision that God so graciously gave me.
I remember reading once that you are not just buying a piece of artwork when you buy art. You are buying the artist’s vision. I have some paintings and photographs that have transformed my heart and mind. Those offered healing and hope, and right painting always came at the right moment to guide me on my path. Although no painting will ever top the vision God has revealed me, I am well aware of those dark nights I survived with help of the pictures of a bright moon, lighthouses, beaches, and mountains.
And so, if one person that comes receives the message of hope and healing from a picture hanging on my gallery wall, wouldn’t my mission be complete?
I think so.
I hope so.
I believe so.