SlowNewsDay


"Only the paint ever knows how to dry."

I hold the strong opinion that watching paint dry has been unfairly denigrated, for few experiences match the subtle satisfaction, after a few hours spent applying paint, of simply sitting back and watching it dry. During those times, the Earth seems solid, the sky blue, and the universe in good working order. The fresh paint scents the scene with cleanliness, even godliness. All's right with the world. A freshly mowed lawn comes in at a close second place, the activity having raised a slight glow of sweat which evaporates off with a soul-cleansing psychic sigh. The satisfying payoff might be the explicit permission to revel in doing nothing at all, watching paint dry being a dodge and not really a producing activity at all. Give the same guy placidly watching his freshly applied paint dry the opportunity to sit like some Zen monk in any other context and he'd likely fidget nervously in place, self-consciousness subsuming the opportunity for enlightenment. Focusing on that paint, though, the same man experiences true transcendence.

I open the paper, hoping for a SlowNewsDay.
The front page only rarely ever delivers what I might need the most, the simple reassurance that I'm not out of the loop because there's nothing to be clued-in about this day, not even a lowly dog nipping at a man, let alone any man gnawing on a dog. Newsworthiness might serve as the most over-rated attribute. I would rather that the paper provide the sort of serenity drying paint encourages than that it jazz me up about stuff I have no influence over. My heart breaks three times before I flee to page three to check the summary of yesterday's most popular stories and the quote of the day. A banner column of barely noteworthy facts gleaned from inside page stories often delights me with curious trivia, bits of gleaming wonder like that China has become the largest pig breeder and pork consuming nation in the world. They even eat the stomachs there. Seventy five percent of the people receiving a prescription for a popularly-prescribed cholesterol-reducing medication never fill their prescription because they can't afford to. Hardly news, the stuff I love about so-called newspapers.

The front page screams at me. My freshly-laid paint never even thinks of screaming at me. My self-talk might have been providing scathing play-by-play all day, but once I've cleaned and put away the brushes and rollers, I need no further commentary. Most of the BIG news will somehow manage to resolve itself without my once ever intervening, so I'm not really shirking any sacred responsibility. One cannot be ill-informed about anything not really worth knowing about. I skim the stuff anyway, my self esteem demanding that I at least try to keep up. Most of the effort's really prep work, vestiges of which I'm hopeful to not be able to spot while I'm watching the paint dry. The fresh coat will have properly concealed what were once screaming deficiencies, worries finally properly set to one side.

Time tends to lose her vice-like grip when I'm under the thrall of a decent coat of drying paint. The job, once continually looking over its shoulder scanning the horizon for unanticipated rain, no longer needs to care. Any carelessness exhibited during application resolves to a definite blessing once the job's done. To care then would be to violate the sanctity of the space. No one ever sets the timer to remind them when the paint's supposed to have dried. It dries exclusively on its own time, which is to say it only ever dries timelessly. It seems as if the job, once completed, must be left to finish itself, further outside intervention, even from a skilled professional, could only compromise the purpose. Only the paint ever knows how to dry. My eye might witness without ever knowing. My hand might twitch but never meaningfully improve anything then. Afterward, the fine finish work properly fades into tenaciously unnoticeable background, noteworthy only by its utter lack of notoriety. Like on a SlowNewsDay, that small part of the world just seems to be working correctly and the gravity which once ruled despotically slips back into its properly invisible role.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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