Friday, November 6, 2015
I went to bed last night with some not-so-good news. This morning, the coffee pot poured coffee and grinds all over the countertop, a super mess. Having a studio and making "art" did teach me something very important. I have learned to clean up messes. Messes are a by-product of making pretty things. You should have seen the mess my house was. They tore it up. It is now a pretty thing again. I have to remember that because the exterior is still a mess. I must clean it up. Some other things, too.
Messes. You can survive them, but how many? There is an accumulated toll, I think, that in the end just wears you down. After Hurricane Charlie devastated my place, after the year and more of coming home from work to put on a tool belt and do more work, after getting up on the weekends to fix the mess. . . I still get a sick feeling when the sky turns dark and the wind starts shaking the trees and the rain starts pelting down. Post-traumatic stress, I guess.
The thing to do with a mess is to start throwing the ruined things away. Just contain the mess and reduce its mass. It feels good right away. It becomes manageable. But that is the easiest part. The more you clean the mess, the more difficult it becomes. Like everything, the details take the longest. It is the detail that drives you nuts.
I'm afraid I'm a broad brush person. It is true. I can do the eighty percent that goes the quickest. Give me a paint brush or a roller, and I'll paint the shit out of a wall. When I get up to the trim work, however, my hands get shaky, my mind gets jumpy. In the end, I just slop it all up.
I know detail makes a thing beautiful, though. That is where art lives. There is the true beauty.
I clean up most of the mess right away. Like the countertop. It looks pretty clean. Nothing, though, the way it looks after the maids leave. I will clean it the best I can and then wait for the maids to make it all good again.
There are no maids for last night's mess. I cleaned up most of it last night, contained it, reduced it. But like the countertop coffee mess, there is a residue, a little stain that isn't so easily removed. The danger is that you learn to live with it, then you do not notice it any more. You've done it too, I'm sure, left something undone for so long you no longer notice it. It just becomes part of the landscape, an invisible flaw. To you, at least. Then one day, someone points it out to you and you wonder how you just left it that way for so long.
I envy people who can keep things neat as the proverbial pin. But that is not me. My life is full of residue from a certain kind of life. Wearing white shirts when eating red sauce. Drinking red wine on the couch. Balancing trays precariously on the edge of a coffee table. Eating while driving. You know. If I smoked, I'd do it in bed.
Beginnings and endings are so different, but they are inevitably linked. What matters most, I guess, is how you tell the tale.