I’ve been doing a lot of painting lately. A lot. I’ve been painting walls and floors and tables. I like painting, though. It calms me. It gives me time to let my mind wander and put things that have happened to me in the proper context.
It also lets me improve upon my skills as a painter. And, yes, there is skill involved. But getting better as a painter isn’t the most important thing I’ve learned recently. Nope, I’ve learned that I have to tilt my head and sometimes bend over to make sure I didn’t miss any spots.
It amazes me every time. I used to not tilt my head while I was painting the first coat and then go back the next day and wonder how I could have missed so many spots. It wasn’t like I had intentionally not run the roller or brush over that part of the wall. It seemed, though, that no matter what I did I still missed some spots. Obvious spots. Spots that were glaring right in my face.
And isn’t life like that?
How many times have we said ‘hindsight is 20/20’?
All I ever had to do was tilt my head, maybe move a step or two at most to the right or left or back and I would have seen most of those spots. I could have saved myself so much work the next day.
But you want to know the weird, crazy thing about all of this? Even after I realized that all I had to do was move a little to find what I had missed I was reluctant to do so. Which made no sense to me at first. So what if I had missed a spot or two? I would have to go back the next day and paint them anyway with the second coat. Wouldn’t it be better if I caught them sooner?
But again, like life, I didn’t want to face my mistakes. As much as I know that perfection is an unrealistic, impossible goal, part of my mind insists that I am perfect. That everything my hand touches turns to gold. I can’t possibly make mistakes.
And maybe that was point. If I could miss spots while I painted – something that I’m really good at – then there are other things, decisions, actions that I’ve missed or screwed up.
And who wants to admit that?
So there I am standing in front of a freshly painted wall knowing that if I move, change my perspective, just a little bit I will find a spot that I’ve missed. There is no doubt.
My mind rebels. It screams at me ‘NOOOOOO, I don’t want to know now. Tomorrow will be soon enough. Later, when it’s too late to actually do anything about it other than fix it.’
It would be easy to start regretting past decisions at this point – not tilting my head. But I don’t want to do that. Sure I’ve made mistakes and horrible decisions that have left other people scratching their heads, but then again so has every one else.
Nope, what’s done is done. I can reflect on and learn from the past, but regret is a waste of time. But I am thankful that I now know to tilt my head, to not turn a blind eye to something I may have missed just because I don’t like to admit that I make mistakes.
Now if I could just work up to courage to actually do it on a regular basis…