Reflection #1 : On Masterpieces

For reflection purposes I want to consider the character of Behrman. It is Behrman’s ordinariness the makes this story so profound. He is that part of ourselves that procrastinates or believes that things will get better just ahead. Living our lives this way, we lose our ability to live in the present, the only place where we can live. Unfulfilled dreams are the result. Behrman turned to gin to ease the pain of his unfulfilled dreams. But Behrman is also a kind man. He cares about people and watches over the young artists. It is his kindness, his sacrifice, his love for the young women, that his masterpiece is born. He dies, but he dies a completed man.

I believe that masterpieces emerge from our ordinariness. Acknowledging the paradox, it’s our ordinariness that makes us extraordinary, your ordinariness being different from mine. Too often we try to do the great thing, paint the masterpiece, that we can’t get started, so immense is the task before us. But taking a step forward, just one step, is how masterpieces get created.

In my kindness classes I stress the importance of doing small things. To understand this further, watch the video below, an example of a masterpiece that the “artist” did not even realize he had created. Then ask yourself, What’s MY masterpiece?”


  1. I shared a “lollipop thank you” with a former colleague. It warmed my heart to remember many of the ways she positively influenced my life and which I had never shared with her. What amazed me was once I started writing the thank you email, more and more ideas came to my mind than I had originally thought of. My email was sent to her spam folder, but somehow she became aware of it before it was deleted. I enjoyed the warm feeling I had while writing and while receiving her response. Isn’t life good when we stop to be kind? when we stop to appreciate? when we are present in the moment? Most of our moments to be present in are good, we just are not present to know how good they are. 😉

  2. Stories Journal #1: “The Last Leaf” by O Henry — Mind Wanderings While Reading

    Washington Square Park, NYC:
    Washington Square, NYC, brings to mind my friend Esmeralda and our sons, who had never met, whose deaths introduced me to Esmeralda. We met over the Internet first, then almost a year later, we met in person for the first time at Washington Square Park. I recall the angular, crisscrossing streets my brother and I walked from the NYC train station to the Park…at least a mile, in September 2010.

    May, my son was born in May, on May 8th. That year it was not Mother’s Day. November, he died in November, the black dog of depression attacked and killed him.

    Bay of Naples:
    I’m thinking of Italy. Esmeralda is from Italy and has the most enchanting, captivating accent.

    My son love to draw. At one point during his adolescence he wanted to grow up to become a Disney artist.

    “I’m tired of thinking. I want to turn loose my hold on everything, and go sailing down, down, just like one of those poor, tired leaves.” I think my son felt just this way.

    “The lonesomest thing in all the world is a soul when it is making ready to go on its mysterious, far journey. The fancy seemed to possess her more strongly as one by one the ties that bound her to friendship and to earth were loosed.” On some level, my son seemed ready to make his journey and loosed the ties that bound him to us on earth…one by one.

    “I’ve been a bad girl, Sudie,” said Johnsy. “Something has made that last leaf stay there to show me how wicked I was. It is a sin to want to die.” Is it? When one is in so much pain, just seeking release?

    Where was Susan and Behrman for my son? Surely, there were Susans, kind and encouraging, and Behrmans, who made the loving, ultimate sacrifice to bring hope to Johnsey, one with no hope, whose strength of body and will was completely spent. Because of Behrman’s genuine selfless love, he was able to paint a real masterpiece, restoring hope, restoring life.

    And so because there was no mortal Behrman to understand and paint the leaves of hope that would have helped my son hold on though a somber Missouri autumn, he ended his life four years ago on Veteran’s Day.

    I choose to believe, however, that One greater than us all, an immortal Berhman who made the Ultimate Loving Sacrifice for all mankind, found my son in his moment of darkest despair, as a bullet shattered his brain, sending him from one dark place to another in search of peace. In this other dark, unfamiliar, and confusing place, as a mother I am compelled to believe that One so much more loving and compassionate than I, must have been waiting for my son when those that could have been mortal Behrmans did not or could not understand the leaves my son was counting.

    How insidious and deceptive is mental illness. How debilitating is its pain–physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. How strong is the stigma surrounding it. How ignorant most are, indeed was I, how deadly it is.

    Now, having learned, that many a person can be brought back from the fatal crisis point of completing suicide, if only there are kind, knowledgeable, compassionate interveners–Susans and Behrmans. I’m not suggesting sacrificing as greatly as O Henry’s Behrman, but I am suggesting to listen as he did. And by listening well, understand what it is that is keeping the person, struggling with thoughts of suicide, alive. As long as that leaf remains, the hope to live remains and the crisis passes providing an opportunity to grasp another hope to live–to paint the Bay of Naples.

    While there is nothing I can do now for my deceased son, I honor him and his immortal Behrman, by seeking to perpetuate kindness and peace. Michael and I shared a favorite quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” In my personal quest to perpetuate kindness, I found many wonderful like-minded people, one being Andy Smallman’s blog. And here I am sharing this story journal.

    Kind Action Journal: As an adult I have found so few natural sources of support. Being around people who experience depression is, well, depressing! I recall being the recipient of many sources of support as a teen and young adult. Once married and immersed in raising a family, then immersed in completing my education, then immersed in my professional responsibilities, I have only experienced individual and community support temporarily, now and then and here and there. So I’ve proactively reached out to support groups and therapists. But I don’t see them as natural supports. I see them as contrived. Yet they still help and I appreciate them for the good that they have provided.

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