Monday, October 10, 2022

The Benefits of Painting (& how it’s kinda like trails)

87596366Most people who have read Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer (or who have seen a movie adaptation) might think that Tom gets the better end of the deal when he charges a fee for the privilege of whitewashing Aunt Polly’s fence. Tom ends up with a  a pocketful of riches – some marbles, a few tadpoles and a dead rat to name a few, as well as, a painted fence. But at what cost?

IMG_7462I’m not about to go into a spiel about how we can all probably benefit from hard work or about how accepting one’s punishment (painting the fence was Tom’s) builds character. I’m referring to the cost of what Tom lost: all that tranquil time, solitude, just he, himself and his maker, for hours on end – that very thing I yearn for when I set out toward the sunrise, when I hike for five hours only to turn around and hike back down. A subtle similarity exists between my aimless wandering in the wild and the mundane task of painting, so subtle, I’m not sure I can even explain it.

Maybe I’m just weird that way, always searching for a secret place. If I can’t get out and make the trek, I’ll find it around me, even in the mundane. So, I’ve been painting my house over the past month: scraping, patching, priming, caulking, painting. I’ve been climbing up and down ladders, sitting, standing, stretching with a paint brush in hand all at a snail’s pace, little by little, covering our little beach cottageIMG_7562. I do this for hours at a time, silent, without listening to music or anything else for that matter, except for the wind, distant neighborhood noises and  my thoughts. But it’s not like I’m consciously thinking. No, I’m observing thoughts, as they somethings fly and sometimes, meander in. I don’t usually follow the thoughts anywhere (as that would be altering this state). Instead, I merely observe my thoughts, as I dip my brush into the paint. These are not not deep thoughts, more like fleeting thoughts as they drift in and out. And hence come the tiny revelations, or brilliant insights, or some kind of connectiveness and understanding somehow emerges. Like I mentioned, I can’t really explain it. But I can say, that painting has done this for me, and perhaps Tom Sawyer missed out. Yes, he got a pocketful of treasures (just imagine what he could do with that dead rat!) but whilst he counted his treasures, he missed out on tiny, wonderous, fleeting revelations that comes with painting.

And then I clean up, and go for a walkabout – got to keep my legs moving so I’m ready for the mountains when the weather cools down! By then I should be finished painting (or not).

Walk About