“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” -Albert Einstein
One of my favorite art teachers, George Rowney passed some years ago. He was the Zen Master of Wacky, Wonderful and Happiness. I contacted his family and asked permission to post a picture of him, but they said, “no.”
I always thought he looked just like the actor Ed Harris and he reminded me of an Irish Picasso. He always had a cigarette in his mouth and a paintbrush in his hand. If I were to say to you he was a stereotypical Irishman, you may assume he drank Guinness and was quick witted. You would be correct. The man was hysterical. He also grew the best tomatoes, and was the world’s worst driver.
He served in the WW2. He never spoke of it. Only once, to me.
One day when I tried to ask questions his voice changed pitch and he rubbed his eyes. I’m a master at reading people and I know he was hiding his personal nightmares and said, “I can’t. I don’t want to remember. Nobody should have to take those orders.” Eventually he did tell me and I wrote it all down and taped him then gave it to his family.
A compassionate man, his greatest love was his wife. I never had the pleasure of meeting her. She never fully recovered from a stroke and he became her full-time nurse/carer. He did this for years with no complaint … ever. He took on all the duties that a nurse in a nursing home would, purely so his love would never have to live in one.
His teachings have never been published anywhere. Until now.
He taught me: (say these in your head with a heavy Irish accent)
■Smile. Smiles are like puppies, everyone loves them, everyone picks them up.
■Dance whenever you can even if you have two left feet.
■Never be afraid of the dark. There is always light in the morning.
■Always turn around and wave goodbye.
■Road trips are an essential part of living life.
■Celebrations must be celebrated, even if money is tight.
■Play. Always play. There is always time for fun.
■Ice cream drinks made with lemonade are essential to a healthy lifestyle.
■You can sleep anywhere. But when awake, be alive.
■There is no time for regrets. Not if you’re still here
■Whenever you can always sing along to the music.
■Never follow an order that your values scream against.
■You must enjoy a bath and sing in the shower.
■Don’t argue when you’re angry.
■Roll up your trouser legs and walk barefoot wherever you can.
■Greet everyone how you love to be greeted.
■Always have butter. Margarine isn’t food.
■If you want to create the best garden. Tender it with love.
■You can be strong and vulnerable.
■Always carry an Emergency Biscuit in your pocket.
■Don’t plan for retirement. Retire ‘one day soon’ plans.
■Don’t take the car when you can walk.
■Speak to everyone you meet.
■Dress to please yourself, nobody else.
■Love. Real love. It’s not up for question.
Sometimes you don’t need to jump into books and attend courses to remember what you already know. There will come a season when you will cease to exist. For a few seasons after that people will remember your time here. What will they share about you?
Do you/did you have a George Rowney in your life? What are a few of their unpublished teachings? Please share them in the comments.Jeannie is a graduate of St. Paul Collage of Visual Arts, accomplished mixed media artist and published jewelry designer. She is the originator of the Echo Creative Team and of the Do Over Challenge. When she is not creating art, she helps people live happy, healthy lives.