I found this painting I made years ago in a stack of old work today. It’s a whimsical characterization of my brothers. They both played football for many seasons of their life.
I grew up in a sports loving home. Meaning, my dad loves sports and so that’s what was on TV when he was around. His love for sports was infectious and it all impacted us differently. We all have an enthusiasm and respect for “organized” games but my brothers had the good fortune of being able to play a sport for a very long time.
I pulled this painting out because I wanted to evaluate the canvas size and possibly paint over it. I hung it in the intended spot and began assessing.
And then, well, it spoke.
At first I laughed when it pointed out the oddly shaped feet paired with the tiny helmet heads. My art is whimsy and conceptual…mostly because that is all I can create.
Then I stepped back and heard something else. Each figure frozen in a pose. One entering the field with his teammates bursting with pride, celebrating their shared beliefs and hopes for their collective endeavor. The other focused on one job, using his might to protect his quarterback from the opponent that sought to stop him. It whispered brotherhood.
My brother once told me that the brotherhood he experienced during football was unlike anything else he’s known. It’s where teammates fought with each other because they were fighting for each other. Each person responsible for his own unique contribution because the success of someone else depended on it. They won and lost as a team no matter how well an individual may have played. Every moving part demanding full attention and intention for collective redemption. And collective gains were always the goal, not individual accomplishment because collective gains were for all, not just one.
Individual effort and investment is powerful when it’s intended for community benefit.
I thought to myself, what if?
What if each of us applied this principle in our lives?
What if we viewed our strengths, talents and interests in light of a team that needed us to play in order for all to win? That complacency was not an option? Investing in our unique selves so as to contribute to a collective whole?
What if each of us would be willing to enter the tension with another, because we were fighting for the other?
What would marriage and parenting be like?
What could happen at work?
Would we figure out how to neighbor in a way that perhaps we aren’t right now?
Would community and global problems be impacted differently?
I know, I’m asking a lot of questions. But I’m writing as quickly as this painting is speaking.
What about you?
What do you think?
What if you applied the principle of brotherhood (sisterhood…fill in the blank-hood) in one area of your life?
Would you be willing to try?
P.S. I probably won’t be painting over this canvas anytime soon.
P.S.S. If you think it’s weird that paintings are talking to me…well let’s face it…it is weird.