By: Monteque Pope-Le Beau
So many people have said that I should write a biography or tell my story. Well that’s just not me. I am a very private person. No! that is not right, I am a solitary person. So I don’t talk about myself very often. I talk about my family and the way I was raised, but mostly I talk about my mother. A great deal of time was given to me during the past five months to just contemplate my life; due to a reoccurring illness that had been asleep for a long time. Well it decided to wake up and I had to decide to stand and fight or to run. Well I stood my ground and fought. When I was able to emerge from my illness. I found once again my thoughts about life had changed. I am still the solitary lone wolf, but I thought maybe it’s time to share a little bit more about myself. So in this instance I would like to take a moment and tell you a little about myself and what I believe.
My purpose came late in my life. You see for over 26 years or more, I have been sick most of my life. I didn’t start out that way. I was a healthy happy child who loved the outdoors and was very active. I came from a healthy home full of love, support, guidance, and comfort. Raised by a single mother; she provided a life that was very comfortable and allow me to reach the heights of my potential. My companions were the literary giants of our library, I learned from them. It also helped that I was home schooled! My mother fed my mind and my soul in so many ways. I was introduced to the world of the arts, culture and travel when I was very young. I had a wonderful life until sickness hit me. I went down a very dark rabbit hole of ill health, that no one thought that I would ever returned from. The only one who believed I would recover was my mother. I lost her not to long ago which turn my world upside down. My purpose at that point was non existent. I was just recovering from my sickness and getting better day by day, but I would wonder what now? What do I do?
Now I am an artist, a storyteller, a minimalist, a lover of the environment and the arts, but most importantly I am a person who was a person lost in time. The illness was like a thief in the night which robbed me of most of my life. Those years were the darkest times of my life. The only light I had was my mother. She became my strength and at one point my will. She also supported me. Throughout my illness she would not take nor listen to any notion of me giving up. It was very hard for me to face the next day knowing that the only thing awaiting me was more pain and suffering. So much more of the same, day in and day out. The darkness engulfed me in a never ending storm of hopelessness. Sometimes I thought how nice it would be just to close my eyes and to be released from the state I was in, but I couldn’t because of my mother. She was my reason to go on.
Out of the many things which my mother did for me of which I will forever be grateful is when she reintroduce me to my art. It was her belief in knowing I could achieve and do anything I wanted which brought me back to life. It started out little by little. First painting, then relearning how to read, write and express myself again. To be honest the illness left me with a minor case of dyslexia, along with aphasia. There was also nerve damage to my left arm. There was no part of my body the illness did not touch from my eyes to my legs and it came pretty close to turning my brain to mush. It was hard, but it would be worth it in the end. My mother gave me the tools to have a purposeful life and a life of meaning. My art has become my life. It is the very breath of my body and the beat of my heart. This is what I love to do.
Writing and painting is very essential to my life. It is the reason why I am here. Being able to write and paint saved me from the abyss in one of the darkest times of my life. It is the very heartbeat of my life and my soul. A continuing gift given to me by my mother. My mother was the most wonderful artist and individual anyone could have ever met. She was so compassionate, kind, loving and truly a wonderful gift to others. I found that I often took her for granted thinking that others must have a parent like I had, unfortunately that was not the case! I was just blessed to have her and even more so to have her in my life for as long as I did. The sacrifices she made for me go beyond the love of a mother. It is a love and devotion that has no words. It is the ultimate in love. She is the reason why I am the way I am. My mother is who made me who I am today. It is her strength, her will, her inspiration that courses through my veins. It is her life force that has given me another chance at life. It is my mother’s faith and believe in me that has allowed me to come this far without yielding to defeat. She is my backbone along with being at the core of who I am.
Let me tell you a little bit more about my mother M. Elizabeth Pope. She was my hero, my mentor, my teacher, my friend, and my companion.
She is the person I have to thank for all I am today. She gave me everything in life so that I would have a good foundation and become the person she knew I would one day become. A single mother she sacrificed a great deal to provide for me. She showed me the meaning of what it is to be compassionate, caring and humble. To be able to look past the surface and see the person. She believed in teaching by example and one of the things she taught was that with privilege came a great deal of responsibility. Just because you were fortunate to be born in a home without lack does not give you a pass in life. It is by this opportunity that you have to make a difference to others. My mother made a difference in quite a few lives along with mine. She was the kind of person that if she saw a person hungry she would feed them, if she saw a person lacking she would help them, and if she saw a person on their knees unable to help themselves up she would lift them up. I never knew hunger, I never knew what it was to be without a home, I never knew what it was to not have access to the necessities of life nor did I know what it was like to not have access to knowledge. For all my life I have been blessed. It has been filled with amazing fortunes of exploration. My mother taught me that there was nothing I could not do nor was there anyone who could stop me from achieving my dreams. The only person that could possibly stop me was myself, but if I got out of my own way I could reach for the stars and beyond. There was one point in my life that I doubted that. It was when I became so terribly ill. It was so bad that I could hardly recognize the person that I saw in the mirror. I became depressed. I was only a shadow of myself, it was here that I found out the true meaning of a mother’s love. She never gave up on me even when I gave up on myself. She used all the strength inside of her to lift me up and hold me until I could do it for myself. She started to guide me back to who I was. Her love lit the way up until the time I lost her and there is not a day or a moment that passes that I don’t think of her. She gave me so much. There was still so much more for me to learn from her. So much more for us to do and yet I feel she is still lighting my way and guiding me to become the person she always believed in.
The arts are a very important part of our family; it is in our DNA. I come from a family of artists and from them I learned what a true blessing being an artist was. From storytellers, to photographers, to poets, to culinary artists and painters; the arts is who we are at our core. There is such a sense of freedom of being able to express oneself. Along with being or becoming a voice for those who have no voice. When you step out of the box and embrace all the possibilities being an artist offers you, you see the world in a brand new light. There is nothing that is impossible. My family taught me that being an artist was not only an honor, but also a responsibility not just to myself, but also to those I would meet a long the way and to those I will never meet.
In my family what means the most to us is integrity, honor, respect, character, helping, compassion, caring and loyalty. Being an artist was about not only living your highest purpose, but also making your corner of the world a better place. This is what I am striving to do with my work; to make my corner of the world a better place. I want to make a difference by causing people to think about issues and subjects that we tend to ignore or whitewash. I hope to change the dialogue and hopefully the way we perceive and treat each other as human beings.
I learned how to be a storyteller at the knees of my mother and grandfather. They taught me the power of a story. How it could uplift the soul and how it could bring hope to those who were lost. A good story could be used as a tool of change, a tool for the truth. A good storyteller has the power to change the world. As I was taught all a storyteller is doing is creating a painting using words. I strive to create wonderful and meaningful paintings with my words and my brush.
So I became the steward of my mother’s work, then it grew into something much bigger which was to help other artists. Giving them the support which is needed for them to fulfill their dreams. Creating an organization that would not just benefit artists, but the community around it. Creating a bridge between the artists and the community. Allowing those who would not normally be exposed to the arts to partake in it, but also using the power of the arts to change the social dialogue and make a difference.
From an early age all I have ever wanted to do is to be an artist and to help others. I have been fortunate to have the honor of having a wonderful and supportive family to cultivate my creativity from a very early age. Because of what all happened in my life I have not taken the obvious roads to pursue my love and dreams of creating. Sometimes you have to find different ways to pursue what you love. Most importantly I have become an observer of life and have found it is the best teacher of all. It is not a road that most artistic storytellers take. It is the road less traveled, but for me it is a road full of emotion, character and the story of humanity.
Looking at the world it does seems like it has lost its mind. As I look around I see a great deal of strife and turmoil with very little understanding for one another. Society seems to be lacking hope and compassion along with very little understanding or patience. Knowing that our purpose in this world is to help, care and love one another. Without this there can not be any kind of civilized society or peace. I know it is a monumental task to try to make a difference in this world; when you look at it in that way it does seem impossible. It is when you think about your corner of the world and what you can do to make it better it is no longer monumental. My purpose is to do all I can to make a difference in my fellow human beings life. To see a need and to fulfill it. To see suffering and create a cure. To see a problem and find the answer. My purpose is to help others with the tools and gifts I was given.
I create my work so people may be inspired. It is a vessel of thought provoking issues created to get at the very heart of what is truly going on in our society. Allowing people to have a meaningful dialogue about their concerns, issues, dreams, hopes and loves. My work is a window into what is going on in humanity. The art I create is also about the movement of energy. Exploring both the dark and light side of it. For I feel that we are all just stardust in an infinite universe. The poems and paintings takes one on a trip through every emotion, action, and personality forcing us to look at ourselves in the mirror and decide what kind of person we truly are.
I would like it to be said of me when I am gone that I knew how to live well. Not so much a materialistic life, but in having a purposeful life. That I gave whenever I could and I made a difference in my part of the world. That I dared to dream and reach for the stars and when I reached them I didn’t stop there. I became the person that my family believed that I could be, who was humble, full of integrity, honor and of good character. Who was loyal to all those who crossed my path. Helpful, caring and compassionate to everyday strangers. Whose wealth was made up of their many friendships. That I lived a life of service to others never taking more then what I needed. Living at the pace of nature and being true to myself and my purpose in life.
My life has been a wonderful journey of ups and downs. Light and dark. There have been twists and turns along the way some of them good and some of them bad, but all of them have shaped me into who I am today. If someone were to ask me if I could would I change anything that happened to me my answer would be…. No! This is my climb and when I get to the top of this mountain, I will look for an even taller mountain to climb next. I believe there’s good in everything and everyone. Maybe they didn’t have the best start in life or the same opportunities. Maybe they didn’t have that support system that was needed to help them and guide them on their way, but there is good in everyone regardless of who they are. It is not up to me to judge why that person is the way they are or why they act the way they do. That is none of my business. What is within my power is to be able to help others to make a difference in a world that seems to have gone dark. I am a fortunate and blessed individual who wants to share the bounty of my blessings. Life is a learning process with every step it is helping us to become who we were meant to be. It is being true to ourselves and living our true purpose in life. Not settling for a life that we don’t want, but having a life that we do what we love and we love what we do. It is about not just being a blessing to ourselves, but a blessing to others without judgement or hatred. It is about constantly striving to be better than what we are and creating a better tomorrow for the generations to come. So this is who I am at my core; an artist, a lover of nature, a loyal friend, but most importantly a lover of life. This is who I am and will always be. I am who I am and I am who I choose to be, imperfections and all.
It is my hope that as you read on you will be able to see the beauty which exist in us all, even in the darkest of times.
Monteque Pope-Le Beau