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" …the kind of knowingly only we could know but could not possibly explain to anybody else."

Applying paint might be one of the minor purposes of painting, for the surface and the paint, even the brush, merely provide context within which more meaningful purposes might emerge. One can always blunt this emergence by simply fleeing from it. Plug yourself into a playlist or recorded book and lose some potential. Let your mind wander where it will instead and you'll very likely surprise yourself by engaging in a kind of MumblingMeditation.

Painting a single board won't induce the trance.
Face a pile of two hundred of them, and a mind simply must muster some sort of self defense against anticipated tedium. The tedium could show up at any time and the imagined threat of it encourages many to plug into that playlist again, hiding behind some previously recorded programming instead of creating their own. Try taking a deep breath and simply engaging. Dip the brush, let the board first teach you how to paint it before teaching you how to paint it properly, for a discernment will start emerging after a short half dozen boards pass beneath your brush.

Repetitive patterns never quite replicating any other might seem to threaten to turn you into a machine, though continuously failing to move you as precisely as clockwork. You will try and fall short of an unspoken ideal, then try and fall short again, slowly realizing that perfection could not have been the purpose of the exercise. The drying boards look every bit good enough regardless of how ineptly you felt you had painted them in the moment. The sweet gusting breeze blows away the errant brush stroke. The occasional swirling leaves will not undermine your effort. A bee might fall into your pot of paint and perform a short form Greek tragedy right before your eyes, the unlikely hero valiantly struggling before bravely crawling across the paint shop floor, to die at the end of the little line his doomed body has drawn.

The day will seem to more fully surround you, standing there with brush in hand. Thoughts will move through your afternoon like ministering nurses tending wounded soldiers, kind comments whispered in sacred confidence. Difficulties unrelated to the task at hand will untangle themselves. Decisions might make themselves for a change, switching out torturous deliberation. The rhythm will appear before disrupting itself, then reintroducing itself again. The flow of the affair might seem to become the purpose about the time you can visually count the number of boards still needing paint, and a definite longing for more will unavoidably accompany it. What seemed an overwhelming challenge, an undeserved sentence to a cruel solitary confinement, has become a transcendent dance, and the prospect of returning to the more familiar world populated by others feels more a punishment than a reward. How about more of what I so recently dreaded instead?

To more fully inhabit this world, inhabit the tiniest slice of it. Forget the bucket list of promising distractions and simply focus here, on some obviously trivial pursuit of the sort that anyone might engage in. One requiring no advanced degree in anything. One that might threaten to numb your mind beyond all recognition; something well beneath you. Machines have utterly failed to replicate the precision of the human hand when the paint and the board and even the brush dissolve into another unlikely loftier purpose. Machines cannot transcend anything. They are designed to purposely perform mindlessly as they produce another ten thousand pop-out replicas of their higher purpose. Us humans make better contributions, inadvertent thumb prints left forever on the trim board and all. We might, after carefully inventorying our production at the end of a timeless afternoon, sit on the back steps to switch out of our painting shoes, freshly splattered with our subtlest humanity, and smile with the kind of knowingly only we could appreciate but could not possibly explain to anybody else.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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