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Words from Sam

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Why rabbits?  I have always identified with them.  As a child, I had two white rabbits: Curious and Cautious.  They fascinated me – their innocence and purity – but also their survival instincts.  One day they disappeared and rather than being heartbroken, I imagined they left for a more adventurous life or a more peaceful existence – free from chaos. I often envied them and imagined what it would be like to have that type of freedom.  


Creating stories about rabbits has been a constant in my life – as a small girl growing up on a rural farm, I would build structures for them in the forests and watch for rabbit tracks to see if they had taken up residence.  I felt a kinship with their fragility – as if I (or them) could be frightened to death by any number of potential threats.  Later in life, as an exhausted working mother, when I was too tired to read, I would create stories about a village of rabbits that inhabited the roots of our backyard maple tree.  Most of the time, I would doze off before the story ended – and would pick it back up the next evening.  Eventually, my sons outgrew the rabbit stories, but I did not. 


When spotting a rabbit, I imagined their sneaky side eye was a nod to the mysteries of the universe.  As a creative person, I have always painted or written poetry.  However, my creativity was limited to the ‘in between’ moments. These pauses, or caesuras, which I filled with artistic expression, tethered me to sanity.  They gave me a small voice that I had lost long ago.  


As a child who was frequently hushed and admonished, to a wife who walked on eggshells to a mother who lived for her children, I eventually forgot who I was.  In addition to these bass notes, my life was punctuated by crescendos of extreme pain – from a near death car accident as a teenager to the loss of my siblings and parents – to the periods of exacerbated worry about my own two sons.  Along the way, there were job changes, divorce, and difficult decisions – and my own haunting melody contained a rhythm that I couldn’t understand.  But there were times, during the caesuras, that I painted or wrote poetry.  On the train, on the subway – in the line at the grocery store – or wide awake at 4 am – my brain was active in another world – and poetry and sketches were scribbled in notebooks, and many became forgotten in drawers or lived on scraps of paper sprinkled around my home.  This is how I knew - deep down – the girl with the big imagination was still there.  


During the pandemic, when life slowed, and I no longer commuted back and forth to work – rushing out of the house in the morning and rushing home in the evening – I found 3 hours a day.  These hours gave me an opportunity to take my pauses – and extend them to something more meaningful.  Admittedly, I was rusty – and it showed in my artwork – but it didn’t matter, as I used this time to find my voice again.  During this reprieve from life’s chaos, the rabbits were born.  Each rabbit is a self-portrait – and the painting and poetry are statements of my feelings that day.  Words that I won’t speak out loud but are whispered through colours, shapes, brushstrokes, and poetry.  My sanity, my voice, my caesura.  Rabbit pause. 


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