Tonight’s post is one of those self-indulgent entries that has little bearing on what’s happening in the world today, but it’s germane to why this post is so late to arrive.
I spent the day painting in my brother’s finished basement. He and his wife have this great living area/playroom for their kids down there, but there was a great deal of trim work that needed painting, as well as baseboards.
I spend many of my summers working maintenance at school, which usually involves painting classrooms. There’s something about slapping a fresh coat of paint on a room that makes it look like there have been major upgrades or improvements, when really you’ve just changed the color.
Of course, everyone loves that fresh paint smell, and new paint does look good. A change in color can dramatically change the atmosphere of a room—it’s “feel,” if you will.
This post, however, is more about the process of painting. While I am thankful I do not have to paint for a living, it is an activity that I enjoy on occasion, usually because I’m getting paid to do it (as was the case today—thanks, bro). Beyond the financial benefits, the act of painting is akin to driving long distances on the Interstate: it’s a bit tedious, but it clears the mind wonderfully. I’ve done some of my deepest thinking done while painting walls.
There’s also a tangible pay-off to painting: the finished product is very satisfying. What’s more, the process itself is rewarding, as you watch your progress unfold in real time. There is little in the way of “busy work” in painting a room.
So many jobs today, especially of the clerical sort, seem to be about spinning wheels in an attempt to appear productive. I’m convinced that huge sectors of our economy consist of such paper-pushing. Just look at the excessive credentialing that underpins so many fields, like education, without tangibly improving the quality of the professions.
In painting—as in my blue-collar trades—there is little room for such wheel-spinning. The job either gets done, or it doesn’t. Unreliable contractors baffle me for this reason (and they are common in the rural South, as I suspect demand drastically outstrips supply), although the problem there is usually getting the project started.
Regardless, the job must be done. If it’s not done, it’s noticeable, especially when painting. A missed spot on the wall is like starting at the pirates’ black spot in your hand.
Of course, painting takes its toll. My entire body is sore from bending and stretching all day (I was switching between trim on the ceiling and baseboards on the floor, as well as some window trim and door frames). Anecdotally, I’m told that many professional painters are drunks. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ve heard it from enough different people that there must be some kernel of truth to it. What’s the connection? (Apparently, paint fumes, but that’s not a huge problem, I’ve found, with latex paint in well-ventilated areas.)
That said, I will sleep soundly tonight, and enjoy a sense of serene accomplishment. Painting today was a wonderful way to refocus my mind and to help me calm down after a busy, extended Easter Weekend.