Saturday, May 29, 2010


I was an unusual child, and those that know me probably think that makes sense, as I'm still pretty strange. Though I have never been an extrovert, I think there was a time when my shyness was different than it is today: more self assured and happy. I did not care so much about others and if they thought I was strange and did not quite realize that I was even odd!

As a child, I was interested in everything : I collected rocks, coins, stamps. I had a magic set that I loved though I was miserable at it. I had a pottery wheel, chemistry set, microscope and, through learning how in a book, of course, created my own greenhouse and terrarium to grow plants.

One birthday I was given a little paint-by-number set. Do you recall those? It consisted of a stiff piece of cardboard that had a LOT of little blue lines on it. Each area had a number. The set also contained several plastic vials of paint, and on top of each vial was a number that corresponded to the numbers on the cardboard. Without the paint, the "canvas" did not even remotely look like the photo on the box, but that was to be expected. It was up to me to make the painting emerge as pretty as the way it was designed to be.

The only problem was I could never paint the "canvas" in such a way that could even begin to resemble the photo on the box, let alone rival it! It was all messy; I couldn't ever stay perfectly in the lines. My paint mixed with other paint. I'd get about halfway done and discard it. It never looked right, never even was recognizable, all these (seemingly) random little paint circles, sloppily applied.

Such a disappointment.

This morning I woke up with a sense of calmness. (I'm not usually calm) I realized that, in my life, I try to paint by numbers. I take what I think is right and fit it into my life, all good, right things, and then look at it really up close and think: what a mess! The picture isn't taking shape; I can't see it and it in no way looks beautiful. I don't understand why the colors are together as they are. I don't understand why it's messy when I want it perfect.

I just don't see what I want to see.

There is a part of me right now that feels like I need to be a blank page, free of my own "numbers" that I think belong. A letting go; a way of saying: I don't know what the picture is but that is fine. Paint away.

Yet the more I thought about this blank slate of emptiness realized that, though perhaps it is good to "let go" of what I think is right and perfect, maybe life is a bit more like my paint-by-number set than I realize. Perhaps there are lines and it already has a shape; I just don't see it yet.

Since I never finished any of my "artwork" I never got to see if they would turn into something beautiful. Perhaps all those circles, no matter how messily the paint was applied, worked. Perhaps the strange colors that were assigned to be side-by-side actually harmonized to make it beautiful, even though it made no sense to me at the time. Perhaps, if I had just hung up the painting and stood back, the picture would have emerged. The messy brush strokes would have revealed something of meaning.

Is it possible to be too close to something that it distorts what is really true?

Can it be that sometimes things makes no sense, but in time, and distance, it not only makes sense but is beautiful?

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