Saturday, March 08, 2008

They call it "stain" for a reason.

Painting things is a wonderfully therapeutic hobby of mine. I can take something, make it look entirely different, and when all is said and done, I can point to something that I did with a sense of accomplishment.

Don't think I don't walk around my house pointing at all of the stuff I've painted on a regular basis.

I do.

There are some beautiful things about painting stuff (other than having beautifully painted stuff):

  • If I make a mistake, I can fix it. I haven't let anyone down. I haven't ruined everything around me, or anything more than what I'm working on. It's just me. I can paint over the mistake, or start over, or do whatever I want, really. The important thing to note about a mistake while I paint is that what I'm painting is not ruined. No need to get rid of it. Or sell the house and move. Or give up on it.
Sometimes my painting mistakes have led to some really cool stuff because I'm forced to come up with something creative to fix it, or I have to go a different direction completely. I've even sought help from others at times when I've painted myself into a proverbial corner and I needed someone with more experience to help me figure it out.

The finished product might not look like I thought it would when I pictured it before I started painting. And the process of finishing it might not have gone the way I originally planned, or be exactly like someone else would do it. But the process of working with it to make it work in the end is fantastic. And the finished product is usually something I'm very proud of. Hard work pays off.
  • Painting also provides a lot of time for me to think and work through whatever is caught up in my head. I spend a lot of time in my head. I've discovered that I might as well paint something while I'm kicking around in there. Slow and steady painting is a great environment for my brain to think and clear. No distractions. Quiet, calm, and very, very fumey.
Good times.

Sometimes, I need a LOT of painting therapy. Fortunately, I have a lot of doors in my house that I've been meaning to stain. Nine, to be exact.

"Stain" is such a negative sounding word. It implies a black mark, something that isn't wanted, something to remove, a blemish. A mistake. Funny that to stain a door means to change it for the better.

Today, I intentionally stained two of my 9 doors. I'll keep staining tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Until they are all stained.

Not mistaken. Not blemished. Not wrong. Not ruined.


In the end, my doors will be better, even with the drips that I didn't catch before they dried, or the mistakes of wrong brush strokes. They'll have character. They won't be perfect, but I probably won't throw them out and go doorless. And I probably won't quit painting because my doors weren't mistake-free.

Today while I was staining, I kicked the thought around in my head that I'm really thankful for the people in my life who do not give up on me when I make a mistake. Friends and family who draw me in closer, back me up, support me, pick me up, even when I screw up.

We learn through our mistakes. We grow. We know better.

Hopefully, we don't learn to grow afraid of making more mistakes.

Of course, all of that could be the paint fumes talking. Why is that asian clown baby waving at me over there?


P.S. I think I got more stain on myself than on the doors. It really does stain, y'all.

1 comment:

MadMup said...

I don't often comment, but I couldn't pass this one up. Entries like this one are the reason I've read your blog daily for almost five years now. Turning a personal anecdote into a revealing look at yourself and then taking that further and making it a picture of how we should interact with others -- seriously, this is one of my all-time favorites of yours. Thank you for it.

The last part also reminds me of Jesus' teachings about how we should forgive others because we have been forgiven SO much.

I'm bookmarking this entry so I can come back to it easily in the future.