King of The Jungle

The King Is In The Castle

“Dust everywhere… and out of that emerged this beautiful boy with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen, holding his hand out to help me to my feet.” – Marie Lu, Legend.

We ate sushi and spaghetti for Thanksgiving last week with a giggly group of old and new friends in the remote Costa Rican surf/yoga mecca of Nosara, a place my wife and I hold deeply sacred. Sitting alone on my board the following morning, Black Friday, I stared into the vast blue and recalled the last time we visited – twelve years earlier – utterly broken and terrified we’d never have children. 

Nosara Thanksgiving 2018
Nosara Thanksgiving 2018
Our Sausalito, CA Houseboat 2006

Three miscarriages in one year had turned the lights out on our typically shiny, happy life. The third, at 19 weeks, shut our hearts down completely. All we wanted was kids. A few weeks before Christmas 2006, we opted to bury ourselves deep in Nosara’s jungle with hopes of healing. Sunlight dusted the sky our first morning, as Jodi slept, and I paddled into the warm, buttery ocean. I stared into that same Pacific void, taking deep circular breaths. And got magnificently lost in the ocean’s bounty for the next three hours, until my arms were spaghetti, and I came in to meet my wife for breakfast. Jodi sat immersed in Overcoming Life’s Disappointments by Harold Kushner, and she handed me a passage that read, “When we open our hearts to pain and suffering, we begin to heal, not because suffering is redemptive but because opening our hearts is.”

Tell Me Again, 70"x48" Acrylic, paper, antique maps, linen on panel 2005
Tell Me Again, 70″x48″ Acrylic, paper, antique maps, linen on panel 2006

When we returned to Sausalito, Jodi told me she was ready to try again but that this was the last time. If our fourth pregnancy did not work, she simply could not handle another attempt physically or emotionally. That was a tough pill to swallow, but I swallowed it in silence. 

The fourth pregnancy with Jodi on bedrest with her dog and manservant in our houseboat.
The fourth pregnancy – Jodi on houseboat bedrest with her dog and manservant.

Opening our hearts

Watching my squealing boys jump into the bean-shaped pool last weekend … and paddle out by my side into the forgiving surf … and engage smartly with interested adults, I felt music in me … a soulful bass line that thumped in my open heart. A rhythm born of both agony and ecstasy beneath a melody sung in the voices of children. My children. 

Before we ever met, Jodi and I dreamt of living abroad with our future families. We had no idea that the family part would be such a struggle. But that struggle produced in us both a hyper awareness, not intellectual but cellular. Akin to a blind person who one day gets to see. Every color, every shape, even the most mundane, becomes sanctified. One simply wants to keep one’s eyes open and see see see. 

Really Good Food - acrylic paint, 1950s Betty Crocker Cookbook on wood panel, 48x32” 2016
Really Good Food – acrylic paint, 1950s Betty Crocker Cookbook on wood panel, 48×32” 2016. Available.

Yes, the world is a mess, but my gratitude burns hotter than ever … for the privilege of fatherhood and the love of a fine woman. And living parents. And friends who keep me laughing. And the opportunity to live simply in unspoiled nature. And the ability to transform whimsy into works of art. Mine is a full belly that has known the pain of hunger. 

Art Basel 2018

Find my work at Pinta Art Fair during Art Basel Miami 2018

For the first time in a while, I won’t be attending Art Basel Miami this year (I’ll be surfing). But I invite you and your friends to find my paintings at the Pinta Fair in Wynwood. 

Gratitude not Attitude!

34 thoughts on “King of The Jungle

  1. What an adventure.. Nosara is where it’s at.. or where it was for me.. When I lived there for twelve years, the Cafe the Paris was just being built and we thought this was the end of everything.. it’s grown a bit since then. It went from Big Sur to Santa Cruz in a mtter of a couple of years. Enjoy it.

  2. We will be traveling to CR in April and your posts make us eager to share such an incredible experience. This isn’t a dress rehearsal. Live life to the fullest 🙂

  3. Just wonderful, Stu!

    Being blessed is marvelous, lucky and sometimes fleeting, but truly appreciating and cherishing those blessings in real-time is a sign of wisdom and a life well lived.

    One always learns the value of water when the well runs dry – much better to savor the water when the well is overflowing.

    Much Love,
    E

  4. Well, you brought me to tears !
    So sweet! . Of all the things I’ve
    Done and all the things I’ve
    Experienced, being a mom was
    The most amazing and fulfilling.
    ( Also the hardest !)
    So, I’m wondering if
    You have thoughts of writing a book??
    Enjoy your adventure!

  5. Love reading your blog!!! You are giving your family a gift that will have deep meaning for them throughout their lives. So thrilled that you are sharing it with us! Enjoy! Your writing is wonderful!

  6. I love reading your posts… your ability to articulate your thoughts and observations are profound, and beautiful. So happy to hear of your happiness…x Monique

  7. It’s such a pleasure to meet your family- so glad you are all enjoying our tiny lush country. Life is certainly better and simpler here… I mean “sencillo” not simple.

  8. That was so muy hermosa Stuart. I remember all that energy while I lived next to you on Liberty Dock. So happy to see all of you serene and living the Pura Vida! Happy Hanukkah and Shalom.

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