There are powerful occasions when we bond instantly with random strangers whose timelines intersect with ours, whether briefly or stretched out for years- perhaps even lifelong from that point forward. It could be as a result of a traumatic event that we share, such as meeting in a hospital setting while suffering from similar crises, or being on the scene of the same tragedy. It could be that we share school experiences or summer camps during our childhood, military service, working together, or living in the same space. “Space” may be literal, as in the people in our home, community, work place, or school. But space may also be virtual, like what is happening right at this moment as you read my words to you.
I painted this art called “Breakfast with Friends” for the book project “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia“. It was meant to illustrate the section about coffee houses and tea shops in the area, but I don’t go to any such shops. I have visited only one, and it was because I was in the city for a one-time event that restricted my movements for a few hours. I wasn’t at the coffee shop organically, but simply because it was near and I was “stuck” on foot, waiting for someone. So, I felt it wasn’t genuine for me to paint a coffee shop as if I have authentic fond memories of patronage.
Instead, I painted how I really take my coffee (or tea… these days I drink more tea than coffee, even though I prefer coffee). I have breakfast at my keyboard. As I’m waking up, I catch up with whatever I may have missed while I was sleeping. Then, I connect with people. Back when I painted this, I was on social media and I’d post threads that many of the same people would engage in.
These people felt like my co-workers, as I work from home and I’d chat with them as I started my work day. In the background, I was working. I’d flip tabs to check back on conversations. It helped the more tedious and boring aspects of my work go by faster, and kept me on track when doing routine tasks. I’d hold myself accountable by posting what I was doing that day, knowing I’d feel like a fraud if I didn’t actually follow through.
I stayed on track with my goals and ambitions because I’d announce my plans, knowing I’d feel pressure to prove that I’d done as I said I’d do. Because of this, my virtual friends made me better. Of course work wasn’t the only connection between us. I was a good listener when someone had something heavy on their heart, and I hope that I was of service and comfort to my friends. Usually though, we didn’t speak directly to each other, only “around” each other, and that apparently is enough to feel among friends.
Sometimes all it takes is to share our thoughts in a space like this, if we sense that people receive our words in camaraderie. There is a kinship among other creatives, writers, and artists, and anyone who appreciates creative work. There is a connection simply by reading or seeing the works of others.
I’ve mentioned several times, in various context, that I’m no longer active on any social media. The only place I engage in a virtual space is here, on my blog. My breakfast routine is now shared with you. Are you my friend? Without realizing it, the answer is YES- if you come to my space and feel goodwill vibes, fellowship, and intimacy that comes about when we feel understood. If you feel a connection to my words or my art, if you feel uplifted after spending time with me, then YES, you are my friend. If this is you, even if you never reveal yourself in a comment, my “Breakfast with Friends” painting is a tribute to YOU.
I’d pour you a cuppa and throw on an extra egg or two… although today I had a caramel-salt mini cheesecake crumble muffin for breakfast. I made these special treats for an event on Sunday and I noticed that the crumble reminded me of a coffee cake, so of course I shall now have the leftovers for breakfast! So, in the revised painting, imagine a splendid muffin sitting there. Good morning, dear friends!