In my forth year in America I illustrated a small children’s book. In it, a little girl could not fall asleep at night because she heard sounds. The sounds came from a little mouse who lived in the wainscot. The story did not tell why the little mouse made that noise. It just gave the different sounds that the little girl heard. Her father pointed them out to her. The story was very short and I saw that I had to stretch the story along enough pages to make a small book, so I invented a story to go along with the sounds. The mouse could not fall asleep just as the girl could not, because he did not have his toy mouse with him. He got out of his beautiful bed, went downstairs and found his toy mouse in a big couch in the living room. He picked his toy mouse up and ran back to his room, where he climbed into his bed, covered himself with three colorful blankets and fell asleep, hugging his little friend. The wallpaper above his head in the picture showed flowers floating in the air, like dreams. You won’t see them in the picture above, because this is the cover picture.
I loved the story and the illustrations happened so fluently and easily. It became the most beautiful children’s book I have ever made till then. I learned so much from the time I came to the US and I knew that a few years back I would not have been able to do such a wonderful work. I felt I was doing what I was meant to do.
I gave the book to the editor and he too liked the work very much. I came home. I thought: This is the most beautiful thing I have ever made. I’ll probably never be able to do such a beautiful work again. And if this is so, I don’t want to live any more. I really felt so.
About a week later my brother came to visit and saw a dark spot under my chin. He was married to a doctor at the time, so he became aware of medical conditions. It was quite a big spot, like a quarter. I had it for a while. It itched sometimes and I scratched it sometimes. But because it was under a beard, I never gave it too much thought. My brother suggested I went to see a dermatologist. The dermatologist said it was melanoma. A week before, I thought I wanted to die, and here was the way in which I was going to die.
I didn’t. I had another book to do and after that many more came. But I learned that this happens sometimes to creative people. After an intense creative project, when it has ended successfully and in a very fulfilling way, there may come a depression. Suddenly the reason to live is gone. Now I know that this can happen only because we do not know that we are limitless.
I think this happened to me again after I finished the first part of the blog.
Actually it happened more times, as I see suddenly.
One of the other times was when I had an exhibition in Germany of abstract drawings and words. I felt I was showing something that was valuable to the viewers, giving them something from what I had experienced in my years of meditation. It was too one of the best things I did in my life. I felt that this was exactly what I had to do with my life at the time. When I came back to the US after two months of being away, I found that I lost all my illustration clients. A steady spot that I used to do regularly for the Wall Street Journal and was the basis of my income was given to someone else. Everything was different.
Now that I look at it, I realize that every time that this happened, it was the beginning of something better. When I came back from the operation for the melanoma, I saw that the only thing that interested me was to study with a Zen master. I found my teacher and studied with him for twelve years. This has changed my mind about everything.
When I came back from the exhibition in Germany and found that I lost my livelihood, it took some time, but in the end I went to study art therapy. Out of this came the method of intuitive flow.
So crisis seems to be good for me. I am sure it is good for you too. And I think that the faster I find my next step and the faster I get to doing it, the shorter the crisis will be. So now, when I have this terrible pain, and I have very few clients and very little money, do you know what I feel? I feel excitement.