I went to see the movie “Marley and Me” today. Yes, it was as billed– a tear-jerker in that genre of movies that pulls at the heart strings of pet lovers. The tears flowed uncontrollably from my eyes, but not just because it had a moving ending to which every pet lover can relate. This was not just a love story between a human being and a pet. This was a story about a man discovering hidden potential in himself that would never have come to be, were it not for the relationship that developed between him and his dog.
If you are not a pet person, then you have no idea what I am talking about. But if you are a pet person, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Pets have an effect on us that is indescribable and beyond our verbal capacities to capture. Tears are all we have, sometimes, to express that effect. You see, animals have a way of getting into that place in our hearts that is totally unguarded and unfettered. We have pure love with no conditions. Through that kind of love, you discover the parts of yourself that are your best, and you realize how truly blessed you are.
In “Marley and Me”, the main character John Grogan is a journalist who is sure of what he wants, yet distracted by the adventures of life. The adventures include marriage, family, career, and all the personal sacrifices that come along with the choices he has to make along the way. Enter Marley, a boisterous and undisciplined Labrador Retriever. Forced into writing a newspaper column for which he is lost for inspiration, John draws on his experiences with Marley for material. The column is a hit, and John discovers himself as a writer, as a husband and as a father through his relationship with Marley.
I am writing about this because the story very closely parallels my own life. I have had pets my entire life, and as a shy and awkward child, they were my closest companions. As a young adult, a small black and white tabby cat entered my life and stayed with me for 19 years. Now, I have four other cats who are the very joy of my life. But like John and Marley, the beauty of the story is not just in the love I have for animals.
Like John Grogan, I have drawn upon my experiences with my pets for “material”. That black and white tabby was named Rembrandt (Shortened to R.B. by a friend, then later to R.Beezie, then to Beezie-tat), and she quickly became my model and artistic inspiration. I cannot tell you how many paintings I have painted of her or how many I have sold. Painting Beezie and having her as my soulmate companion for 19 years, I discovered my best as an artist and as a person. She helped me discover the best I could offer as an artist, and personally, she helped me develop an identity that was true and unique. Over time, I started using her name to sign my artwork–BZTAT.
Today, my mainstay of artistic production is bright, colorful and fun pet portraits. Not only do I enjoy painting them, I enjoy sharing them with other pet lovers. Even if no one buys the paintings, I love sharing them with other animal lovers. I love sharing stories about their pets and sharing tears about that special quality that we feel but cannot describe.
One of my current feline children has recently helped me develop a new line of communication with pet lovers on a global scale.
Enter @BrewskieButt, a slightly undisciplined yellow and white cat who is fast becoming a star on the microblog Twitter. My incorrigible cat Brewskie, you see, has taken to blogging on Twitter, and he communicates with other “cats” and “dogs”; “hamsters” and “chinchillas”; “horses and donkeys”–you name it, there are “Tweeters” of every pet breed. Through Brewskie, I have shared the joys and the sorrows and the day to day humor of pet life with others who share that unique love of animals. By chronicling Brewskie’s little ways–his love of TUNA and catnip, his penchant for chasing the “Slick cat”, his disgust for hairball “goop”, etc.–I have found a new vehicle for artistic and social communication with people around the world.
Like Beezie, Brewskie is helping me overcome barriers within myself to become the best that I have to offer–artistically and personally.
Truthfully I started exploring Twitter because I had read that it was a good marketing tool for artists. It is that. But the best marketing happens when it is genuine, and Brewskie’s play with his Twitter Critters is very much that. Some of Brewskie’s pals have given me permission to use their photos for artistic inspiration, so look for the “Twitter Critters” series to be coming soon.
What would we be without our pets? I do not want to know.
And with that, I must stop writing, as I have a furry face *nosetapping* me, wanting some very well-deserved love.
Life is an Adventure!