… on a busy mind calmed

“Too dark! Need light!”

Last week was a crazy sad and frightening and bewildering week, for sure. For me, the more public news of the horrors in Las Vegas, and the death of Tom Petty joined closer to home stresses too… some health stuff with a loved one here, some confusion between folks I care about there.

I was feeling kind of, as Granny would say, at loose ends.

I needed more than just turning off the news.

I needed something to do… to complete.

There were options, of course.

We’ve still not unpacked some stuff from the move, so I had that.

And we were expecting two cords of wood to be dropped in the driveway at any moment.

Also my office was looking somewhat schizophrenic (seriously, it had somehow completely lost touch with reality. I don’t even know if it knew it was an office anymore).

None of it was appetizing.

At one point, I found myself with an old-fashioned feather duster, wandering into The Inn’s various spaces, landing in Room Four (Yep, this really was an inn after all. Each bedroom has a little brass number on the door).

My brain was busy, busy, busy… and, at one point, my eyes landed on the matching lamps sitting on the nightstands.

Technically, I think their color fell into the ‘oil rubbed bronze’ category, but these two metal lamps were pretty much black.


Enough dark!

Thoughts began popping.

I have to replace those lamps.

Where did I get them?

I don’t want to buy new ones.

Can you paint metal?

Wait. Do I have some of that paint left?

By this point, I’ve left the room and am making my way downstairs.

Where would I have put that…. the back storage room?

How many ‘back rooms’ do I have in this house?

Jesus. I failed at downsizing!

Maybe here… no.



Okay… ‘French Linen’… I think that’s grey.

Old White. Okay.

Brush. Check!

Other brush. Check!

I pittered and pattered to the kitchen and grabbed a few of the dish towels that seem to multiply like wire hangers, which seem to multiply like rabbits.

And I went into the living room and set myself up, totally hodge-podge.

And I just started.

Here are the lamps, once I took the shades off and bulbs out:

And then I painted them with the color called French Linen (which is really grey but paint companies require a minimum of two syllables for every color, including one adjective).

The coolest thing about this paint was that I could do exactly zero prep beyond wiping the dust off the lamps, and be totally sloppy.

Shockingly, the grey base dried wicked smooth – not a lump or bump on it!

Then I was winging it.

I mixed up some of the white paint with water (because that’s whitewash right?!) and things got rather… splashy.

I splashed my mixture on and wiped it off, and splashed more on and wiped it off…

Then I was all, ‘hey I need to warm these up’ and remembered I had this dark wax stuff…

I smooshed the dark wax on with a brush to get it into the crevices and stuff, and then I waited a few minutes and wiped it off… then used a towel to buff it. And then I put the shades on and bulbs in and …

I know! New lamps for free!

But… oh… what a mess.

Spots and smears of paint and wax on the table and the mirror and the floor and me… paper towels in a big smelly (and dangerously flammable) dark and waxy pile… open cans with paint running down the sides…

A good old-fashioned arts and crafts explosion.

Totally. One hundred percent. Worth it.

I’d needed to do something.

I didn’t want to clean or organize or stack wood or do anything that would qualify as adult-ing.

I wanted to play.

My inner child… heck, my outer child was so happy.

To move back to the simple, is not necessarily to move toward the unthoughtful.

Sometimes it’s just the opposite.

Sometimes it’s about clearing out the cobwebs, making way for light.

Periodically, my brain reminds me of Robert Fulghum’s essay, All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I love the profound points made, as Fulghum takes me all the way back to my days of scraped knees and palms, of lingering smears of bright finger paint on me and my clothes (and even my shoes).

Fulghum writes of finding wisdom “not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile at school”, and then goes on to remind us of what we learned then… that seems so important now.

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people. 

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody…

None of this is rocket science.

But sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own stories and histories and day-to-days that it feels complicated.

I can’t make my government put stuff back where it finds it, or clean up every mess it makes.

Heck, I can’t make people clean up their dog’s poop from my lawn.

But I can remind myself of those long-ago learned guidelines as I go about my own everydays, and I can do my best to follow them.

Let it begin with me.

I felt better when I placed those lamps next to Room Four’s bed.

They are lighter lamps now.

I was a lighter person when I finished them.

The last line in Fulghum’s essay is my favorite, which is funny because – as JoHn often opines – I’d probably move my introverted self into a cave at some point if he let me…

“It is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”

I agree (screw the cave).

Thanks for readin’.

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