I recently moved into a new apartment which needed to be painted BIG time. I'm talking every single square inch, the insides of closets, every ceiling, the stairs...EVERYTHING.
In my mind the painting couldn't take more than a few hours per room, right? Wrong! Each room took three days to finish top to bottom. Three days!!!
This is what painting was in my mind:
- Roll the roller up and down the walls a few times
- Step back to admire my work
This is painting in reality:
- Move furniture and remove electrical outlet covers
- Fill in all the holes
- Wait for the holes to dry
- Sand the holes
- Wash the walls
- Put down drop cloths
- Paint the edges of the ceiling
- Paint the whole ceiling
- Wait for the ceiling to dry
- Repeat steps 7-9
- Paint the edges of the walls with primer
- Paint the walls with primer
- Wait for the walls to dry
- Repeat steps 11-13 (if the walls are really dark)
- Repeat steps 11-13 twice more with the paint colour of choice
- Tape the walls and floor around the baseboards, window sills and doors
- Paint the baseboards, window sills and doors
- Wait for the baseboards, window sills and doors to dry
- Repeat steps 16-18
- Take the tape off
- Pick up drop cloths
- Clean up little paint spills
- Move the furniture back in and replace the electrical outlet covers
- (add several more steps for kitchen cupboards, closets, stairs, unforeseen trim, nooks and crannies as well as putting away brushes, cleaning brushes, running to Home Depot because you've run out of paint, tape, sandpaper, more paint, more tape etc... etc... etc...)
As I worked, I grumbled and cursed through all of the "prep" work and "clean up" work. I just wanted to get to the "real" painting without all this extra noise. I wanted it to be the way I thought it would be, with two simple steps. Paint and enjoy! It took me awhile, but room by room something started to dawn on me...
Maybe this is what painting is. Painting is the WHOLE process. Painting is not one step, it is ALL the steps! Filing the holes is painting, washing the walls is painting, taping is painting, cleaning up is painting, running to Home Depot is painting. It's all painting!
It got me thinking of all the things in life that feel like practice, like preparation:
- The work that you do for a BA, MA, PhD
- The hours you practice for a concert/play
- The writing you do every morning
- The drawings you crumple and throw away
- The veggies you chop
- The recipes you test
- The dance moves you try
- The seeds you plant
- The clothes you sew/knit/crochet and rip out
- The clutter you clear
- The first draft
- The boring photographs
- The crappy meditations
- The bad dates
- Etc... Etc...
The years of prep work, of practice, of trying, of seeking, of seeding, of weeding, of waiting...
You see, it's all the point. Practice IS the point!
This is life my friends. Yes, there are the performances, the graduations, the great dates, the openings, the launches, the weddings, the births, the deaths. But all that stuff in between, all the mistakes you make, all the prep, the learning, the clean up and the recovery. THAT is living and living is the point...