I’m not someone who feels especially embedded in my community, even though mental health experts say a sense of community is important to well-being. So I’d been meaning to find ways to get more involved locally, because I always listen to what the experts say.
I volunteered for the crew to help artist Fernando Orellana paint a new mural on the rail trail that runs near my house. The mural was a significant installation that spanned the supporting infrastructure of a highway overpass. I talked Fernando into letting me join him on the lift (despite insurance regulations) and I had the opportunity to paint side-by-side with this talented artist. We talked about the creative process and I learned how he conceived and designed the mural. He used a computer and projector to cast the outline of the mural onto each surface, then traced the shapes to be painted.
I only painted for a few hours on a couple of different days—long enough for the arthritis in the fingers of my right hand to clamp down and force a switch to my much slower left hand—but it was a colorful, rewarding task.
The reward was simple: every time I run or ride past the mural I think, I helped. I was a small part of this. I gave a few hours to the arts and to beautify my community. It was something.