When I retire, I would like to become a painter is a new action that took place upon Oxton Fields in Birkenhead on 22nd August 2019.  The action stemmed from a conversation with a traveller in Amsterdam, Holland. They stated they had an urge to paint but did not want to act upon that urge until they retired, as they wanted to do other stuff. I found the postponing and prioritising of such a task extremely interesting. There was an expectation of the future. Maybe this was due to the routine of expecting a tomorrow while still living in the present, and then experiencing that tomorrow as the present. Over time, this will ultimately build up an expectation of tomorrow being guaranteed as something to conceptually bypass before it has existed, therefore giving the illusion of having infinite time to discard.  

Having worked in numerous care homes I was often faced with the absurd reality of life through the tales of elderly residents who also waited too long to do what they had wished. The conversation would usually take place during a resident's bowl movement as they sat on the commode. The story telling arose from the laboured and difficult transition they faced from their chair to the commode.  This would result in a polite 'thank you' before they would reveal the devious encroachment of the passing of time, often interrupted by a few seconds of silence, a small grunt and a sigh of relief before continuing with their story.  After the story was told and their bowl movement complete, I would help them back to the chair and walk back to the commode. I would gently shake the commode bowl over the toilet until the piece(s) of excrement would splash into the water like Olympic divers.  

I could not help but be transported back to those care home experiences when the traveller spoke of their life proposal up until retirement. The combination of desires, postponement, prioritising, expectations, the future...all embodied a certain chaotic stillness in a continuous vat of absurd *nothingness. A blending of a life span into one single moment of existence. The wishful thinking of the youth about tomorrow and beyond merged with the knowledge of the old that tomorrow is now. Even if now is only 13 minutes. The field becoming the vat of absurd nothingness. Me, the human, attempting be something beyond itself only to be let down by its own flawed concept of existence; and the commode, a thrown where Olympic divers are produced.   

 
 

 
 

Stephen Sheehan 

 
 

 
 

*Nothingness - the non-meaningful universe presented as the field. Void of purpose but open to use and interpretation by its occupier.