Finding Positive in Pain+

On March 9, 2013 by Michael Carini

I’ve heard that insanity is characterized by doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. By those standards, continuing to get back up after repeatedly being knocked down would, at least metaphorically, knock me into this category. Why keep getting back up? Why not stay down? Perhaps it’s the concussions or perhaps I am crazy. I like to think that I simply prefer to live in a reality of my own creation.

At one point or another, we all face adversity in our lives and have obstacles we must overcome. When we find ourselves on the ground looking up, whether we fell or we were pushed, we have to ask ourselves “Do I get up?” If we decide we should, we must then ask the question “How do I get up?” The answer is not always easy and, often times, it would be much easier to just stay down. To get back up over and over again, is the road less traveled. It can also be a very lonely road. Although we all hope we will have the help and support to take that path, we are sometimes forced to travel it in solitude. In such times of darkness, it can be discouraging, even seem hopeless. In times like these, we must find that spark to guide us, cling to its warmth, and head back towards that light where we can shine.

In 2009, I found myself on what I would describe as the colorful end of an assault and battery. Multiple fractures, facial contusions and a concussion, I didn’t know what hit me, literally. A smile on my face in the hospital, I was listed as “grossly incoherent.” What makes me smile now is knowing that I had never been more coherent. Sometimes we walk through life completely asleep and it takes something jarring, in this case a felony, to truly wake us up. No pain medication in hand except for a paint brush, I was back in the studio with a new series of images and ideas the very next day. Bad things happen and we can’t always stop them. We simply can’t control every aspect of our lives. What we can control, however, is how we choose to respond and react when something bad does occur. Being bitter and complaining would have been easy, but it would not have been productive nor would it have helped me heal. Time in the studio with some paint, however, did. So often we try to contain or mask our pain, but it was only by letting it out and openly dealing with it in a creative manner that I could truly close the physical and psychological wounds. The result was a tangible body of work titled “The Up-Side of Down.” Additionally, I tattooed an image on the inside of my right elbow, a symbol and permanent reminder of what I saw flashing in my mind that evening of April 27th.

Surprisingly, I was contacted by my attacker about two years later in an effort to make amends. Even more surprising to most, I had had no reservations about accepting his proposal. In fact, when we met, he was more nervous than I. Seeing the pain this had obviously caused him over the previous years, perhaps more than my own in some ways, I spoke the first words to let him know that I had forgiven him the same night the incident occurred. Harboring hatred or animosity does nobody any good. In fact, if not for this traumatic experience, I would not have pushed myself as I did. I would not have accomplished all the things that I did and I wouldn’t be the man I am today. In part, I owed him. Call it crazy if you will, but it was only in having my eyes closed that I was able to see clearly. For that, I owed this man a debt of gratitude. To show that appreciation, I grabbed a painting from the series out of the closet, a painting titled “The Limit of Infinite Possibility,” and gave it to him as a gift. To this day we are still in contact.

I share my stories with others not for sympathy or pity, but so that I might reach others that don’t know how to get up. The best thing that you can offer the world is yourself. I offer myself through my work and, regardless of what anyone may think or say, it comes from a place of complete sincerity and a humbled integrity. Perhaps in sharing my experiences and offering something positive, I might give hope to someone that has lost their own way and is looking for a helping hand to get back on their feet. Hope gives me a reason to keep fighting, but it is painting and art that are the language through which that hope is voiced and manifested. Perhaps you too can find the positive in pain+.

Discover the healing power of art and support the arts in your community. Support art programs in our schools, programs for adults, therapy programs for trauma victims, programs for the homeless, and programs for the incarcerated. We can all benefit from a brighter, more colorful future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Protected by WP Anti Spam