2,996

2,996 lives were lost on September 11, 2001 as a result of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. This painting seeks to provide a visual representation of those lives lost, as the human mind is notoriously bad at visualizing large numbers. Each of the figures was painted individually, each represents a life. It is hard to imagine still the sum of the grief experienced by those left behind. 2,996 individuals tied to dozens of friends and family members, many of whom I am sure suffer to this day.

I tried to capture the idea of the clear blue sky that was marred by clouds of smoke and billowing dust as the buildings collapsed. The images of rebar and fragments of building stand out in my mind as crews searched the rubble for survivors. The figure in the center deliberately resembles a superhero…I think the idea of a superhero coming to save the day died for a lot of people back then. Yet at the same time, many heroes arose as a result of these tragic events.

Death to the self

Happiness is an elusive notion that is frequently chased and rarely achieved. You think if you made more money or had more time things would be better. If you had the body you wanted or the partner you wanted or whatever it is your heart desires, things would be different. Some people spend their time dreaming about these things. Other people spend their lives working for these things. And in the end what do they get?

You have goals you want to achieve. This is not one of those motivational posts that is going to tell you to get off your butt, work hard, and you can do anything. While this is true to an extent, it is not the whole picture.

The truth is, there is no such thing as happiness when happiness is the goal. If you spend your days trying to please yourself, you will only increase the emptiness that is inside you. But if you choose to live a life that is driven by personal values, you might fare better.

To truly be happy, first you must die to yourself. Give up your own selfish wants and desires. Stop doing things that please yourself and do what is right. Live in the moment not for the moment. Put others’ needs before your own and just see what happens.