When your two first cells fused, sperm and egg, a canvas manifested.
A crisp, taut, 30" x 36" canvas, ripe for painting.
You as a morula became you as a fetus over 24-42 weeks, and each moment that passed, fine oil paint was thickly applied by a source unseen.
At that yearned-for magical transition from warm fluid to harsh air, your painting was already 60% complete. Like your birth certificate, your painting remained in the hands of your caregivers. You didn't have the arms to hold it or the knowledge to preserve it. The holders of the largest brushes for many years were your caregivers, your television, and the varied sights, sounds, smells, feels, tastes, beliefs, thoughts, emotions of the environment.
Gradually, you become aware of the painting. You grabbed a brush, whether you were handed it or not. You found paint thinner. Your limbs strengthened, and one day you found that you could defend the canvas. You could prevent another's brush from touching the surface.
Through your life, the painting is altered. Every day. Every moment, the painting is changed, ever so slightly.
The canvas can be torn.
The canvas can be scratched.
The paint can be covered, but the canvas will never again be blank.
Some days, you are grateful for the painting.
Some days, you wish for blackness. No painting at all.
Some days, you find the tears and you apply putty, tape, glue.
You wait to see if it will mend.
It does not.
But those days you can sit with your painting, whether in a meadow, a ditch, a city, a prison, a cubicle, an awkward party -
See the holes, the tears. Feel the thick ridges, the original pattern. Marvel at the complexity of the swirls, the choices you made to try acrylic or paper mache, places you tried so hard that you made the canvas sag with your finger painting, painting knife, turpentine and soggy cloths.
You see it all.
This is your painting.
And only Yours.