The teacher and the student

Two very different types of classes have been a surprising blessing to me in 2024.

John I. Carney
6 min readFeb 3, 2024


This is about gratitude. But before I get to the gratitude, I have to explain what I’m grateful for.

The past couple of years were discouraging to me in some ways. I turned 60 in 2022, and in 2022 I and others in my family watched a beloved family member fall deeper and deeper into Alzheimer’s Disease. We struggled to make sure that he was properly cared for. The knowledge that there are sometimes genetic components to dementia made me worry about my own future.

I worry about my finances.

I feel more alone now than I’ve ever felt. Now, if I have to go to a medical procedure that involves sedation — say, a colonoscopy, or the two kidney stone procedures I’ve had in the past three months — I have to try to find someone willing to drive me and wait to bring me home. Don’t get me wrong — there are plenty of people willing to do this, in my church, and in my family. Each time I’ve asked for help, I’ve gotten it. But it still makes me feel alone, and kind of like a failure.

But I’ve received two gifts lately. Both started from seeds planted in 2023, but both have come to fruition in 2024.

A few years ago, after a lifetime of doodling, I started drawing a little more seriously, and in 2021 and 2023 I even entered my drawings in the local county fair, winning ribbons. In 2023, while in line to enter my drawings, I saw a woman holding a gorgeous painted portrait of a young man (her son, I would later find out) playing the guitar. That woman was Clover Honey, and a week later, when picking up my entries, I got the chance to meet her, which led to me taking an oil painting class from her in November of this year.

Me with my first-ever oil painting.

I immediately fell in love with oil painting. I love mixing the colors to try to find just the right shade. I’ve got a long way to go in my painting journey, with a lot to learn, but I fell in love with the process right away.



John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at