Though both Steven Tyler and Ralph Waldo Emerson buy into the life is a journey concept, I have always preferred to reach the destination. Never mind that the writing of a novel lasts ten years and the finishing of it but a moment. Who wants to be quietly happy for ten years when she can have her existence justified in one grand flourish? This weekend, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself occasionally enjoying a process, namely painting.
I am neither a skilled nor a speedy painter, a reality that once would have caused me great emotional and mental turmoil. Now, though my lack of speed in many areas still astonishes me, I don’t always find it necessary to bludgeon myself because of it. Loosening the death grip on perfectionistic tendencies appears to make life less painful.
The breakthrough came when my mom and I had stopped for a pie break. I was mentally cataloging everything that remained to be painted when Mom began telling stories of when I was a baby. Apparently I used to make a little three-fingered Buddha sign sometimes when I fell asleep.
When she told me that, I thought, “Sitting on the patio eating pie and listening to your mom tell stories is more valuable than a professional paint job.”
I usually reply to myself, “The trim I painted looks like crap.” Instead I said, “You are probably right.”
Several times throughout the course of the weekend I believed that doing whatever I was doing, regardless of how poorly, mattered more than some as yet unrealized result. I don’t know where this ability to value the here and now came from, but I do know it resulted in a general lowering of the frenzy level.
So let’s look at the stats:
- Electrical plates remaining to be reattached: all of them
- Door knobs that escaped unscathed: 0
- Spots I completely missed (current count): 2
- Days I will feel guilty for locking my cat in the garage for three days straight: varies inversely to the number of times he draws blood
- Walls that probably need another coat of paint: 1
- Degrees lighter and cheerier the downstairs feels with fresh paint: immeasurable
- Changes in the “my life may be OK as is” meter: a few priceless notches up