The Zen of Painting


30 Years Later and the House Demolished,  Did It Matter if We Used Glossy or Flat? 

It was the summer of 1973 when my brother and I lived on my grandfather’s farm in Chardon, Ohio. In fact, I lived very close to the very first office of the Mother Earth News, and as a young journalist, I considered applying for work.  But the magazine office moved out of state, and I eventually I moved back to California.

One day at the Chardon farmhouse, we decided to paint the kitchen a beautiful shade of light turquoise.  My  brother and I drove into Cleveland to buy the paint, which was no small task for us in our “jalopy” car.

We prepared the kitchen, turned on the radio, and began our task.  We opened the windows, and I did the trim while my brother rolled.  We listened to the radio as we busied ourselves with our individual tasks.  We worked the corners, the edges, the front surfaces..   

There’s something about painting -- perhaps it’s the fumes, perhaps it is the long quiet times of many little tasks.  Painting requires no moral decisions, no great choices, no necessary pontifications about the meaning and purpose of life.  And yet... 

And yet, there you are, with your self, and the task before you.  For me, painting time has often been a time to re-enter the inner I, to think, to remember.  In many ways, it is the ideal task for self-enlightenment.

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