Despair versus hope: Jackson Pollock the painter

I watched a movie called “Pollock”, which was the life story of the famous American painter who began his career after WW2. It revealed how he discovered a new technique: to paint on a canvas laid out on the ground by dripping paint from a stick and swirling the stick around (without touching the canvas) to form an abstract design, which was embellished in different colors.

Although his wife offered continuous support, it was a long struggle before Time-Life magazine wrote a story on him, and his paintings took off. Because of the movie, I have to admit that I gained an appreciation for this form of “modern art”.

However, what struck me was his tortured life. Pollock was depicted as having mental instabilities, which his wife did her utmost to alleviate. He was an alcoholic for a good part of his life. His temper would explode, even in the company of friends, causing immense embarrassment.

In later years, he had an affair which led to separation from his wife. In a final scene he was apparently driving drunk with his girlfriend, and one of her friends, when he crashed the car at high speed. Pollock was killed along with one of the girls…… it was as if he wanted to die.

Throughout the movie, I was filled with sadness over the unfortunate choices and conduct of Pollock’s life, and the hard drinking and despair of it all. Even though he became successful as a painter, his tragic life was in strong contrast to Jesus’ words of hope and promise: “Take my yoke upon you, and lean on me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

In contrast to Jackson Pollock, I recently encountered a life that had been going south, but is now being changed for the better**. Quentin Groves was a college football player with a pedigree. Although chosen in the second round of the annual NFL draft, he did not perform up to expectation. “You’re not athletic enough to play in our scheme,” Groves was eventually told by the New York Giants, and while he was reeling from that the Miami Dolphins gave him the same verdict.

This forced Groves to search for answers. He went on a “three-month reverse binge when he took all the b.s. out of his life”. Gone were the nights out partying. Gone was the drinking. He also had to eliminate some people out of his life. And then he buckled down on his diet and fitness.

Groves explained that his best friend had sent him a Bible verse: “I brought you to this place, that you would take over this land. What I did for Abraham, I’ll do for you” (Genesis 12), and this resonated with him. Groves is listening and God is communicating: “Q, this is what you had before but you were too busy and too caught up and wouldn’t get out of your own way to listen to me”.

In an unanticipated event (a God-thing?), the Arizona Cardinals gave Groves a contract to play for this year, with deliberate words of confidence from the Coach and the General Manager. They believed in him. Groves has already done some good on the field. Recently he blocked a punt against the New England Patriots, the Cardinal’s first blocked punt since 2008.

Arizona beat New England in that game, which surprised all the pundits, and they started the season at 3-0, only one of a few teams to achieve this. Groves’ story is an ongoing one about the potential for life-change when one submits to God and starts depending on his resources for living. A change of heart leads to belief and optimism and energy.

Groves said he began to change a year ago, when his daughter Quejaah was born^^. Since other family members also depend on him, Groves keeps a heavy chain with a lock on it to remind himself of that. The links in the chain represent the people close to him. “The strongest part of the chain is the lock”, Groves said, “and I’m the lock that holds my family together. I take the chain everywhere, even to games on the road”.

Despair versus hope? Hiking Toward Heaven⁰ is a delightful novella about finding hope on earth for ourselves, and offering hope to others. We do have some choice in this….and we can choose the way of hope.

The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers….

“And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry, and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness….. The Lord shall guide you continually, and satisfy you in drought and in dry places, and make strong your bones. And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah, chapter 58, Amplified Bible).

** Extracted from “Binge Brings Groves Success” by Darren Urban, Sep 18, 2012.
^^ From “Arizona Cardinals’ Quentin Groves gets Priorities on Track, Career on New Level” by Kent Somers – Sept. 20, 2012.
⁰ Hiking Toward Heaven by Ian Palmer: see info in this website, or Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any bookstore (also available as an e-book).

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11 years ago

Thanks for the wonderful ways you are able to speak to all of us. Being a Christian does not take all the problems aways but with Jesus we are never alone. I watch football but had not heard of Groves. I will start listening for his name and say a prayer for him. God bless you.

11 years ago
Reply to  Marie

I had not heard of Quentin Groves either Marie, but I love stories of people who get a second chance because (1) they search themselves and review their life, (2) are open to change (and God’s resources), and (3) receive encouragement from folks who believe in them.

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