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Terri Simon

Picture perfect

I like art, and a trip to the art museum in Chicago is one of my favorite excursions. I also like to go to galleries, and I appreciate so many local artists — Kenny Stoner, Denny Elliott, Dana Collins, Bart Kassabaum, Mary Win Norris — just to name a few. In other words, I admire those who take a paintbrush in hand, place a blank canvas before them, and then create a masterpiece before our very eyes.

While there are those who paint and create professionally, I have to believe we are all painters in our own right. Whether we realize it or not, we’ve all painted a picture, but seldom does it ever make it to a canvas. That’s right; our pictures live in our heads. You know what I mean ... somewhere down that dusty road in our minds, we have a painted a picture of what we expected life to look like. In most cases, it’s a youthful painting with picket fences, butterflies, blue skies and lots of smiles on the faces that grace the invisible canvas.

When we were young and we dreamed of the future, I contend we carefully crafted that aforementioned painting. Coupled with our little-kid experiences, dreams and aspirations, we added things one-by-one to our canvasses, careful to stay within the lines of what we thought represented the perfect picture — the perfect life, and we spent our youth revisiting that masterpiece, knowing someday it would definitely become a reality.

Some of our canvasses held pictures of the perfect mate, accompanied by just the perfect amount of children and perfect, well-behaved pets. In the background, there was the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood with the perfect vehicles parked in the perfect garage. The backyard held the perfect pool with a perfectly-manicured lawn and a perfect flower garden where perfect plants never died. There was more ... Each one of us painted the perfect job with the perfect salary. Our pockets were full, and our home was beautiful. The sky was always blue; the grass was always green; and though we may have painted a cloud or two, no rain ever fell in our picture-perfect world. Butterflies floated through our masterpiece, and a rainbow could be seen in the distance. And best of all — perhaps most important of all — we painted a smile on everyone’s face ... a big, broad smile that would never be erased.

If you can tell me the picture you painted in your head long ago didn’t somewhat resemble that, I want to meet you ... but I don’t think I’ll get many calls. For you see, I think most of us as young people dreamed about life in the future, knowing that canvas in our heads was going to come to fruition. Like the painting, life would be just about perfect.

Fast forward quite a few years, and the painting which once lived in my head is filed so far back on that dusty road in my mind, that I don’t know if I could ever retrieve it — even if I wanted to. Somewhere along my journey through this world, that masterpiece got smudged; the canvas might have even been torn; and the colors kind of ran together. And the smiles? Well, that’s probably another column ...

Don’t misunderstand. I am happy. I love my life, and I love everyone and everything in it. Quite frankly, with the exception of Publisher’s Clearing House’s refusal to stop by, I wouldn’t change much. Life is very good.

But that doesn’t address the picture in my head — that picture most of us painted on that invisible canvas. I contend that picture is what causes us many problems in life as we reflect on what was “supposed” to be and what really happened.

But perhaps the sooner we can forget about that picture in our head and focus on the masterpiece we paint every day, the sooner we can realize that smiles don’t have to be painted on ... they can just happen.

BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@bcrnews.com.