Tuesday, April 18, 2006

To Complain or To Create? That Is The Question


This past week as Tom has been away I've considered driving to Barnes and Noble, but I've still not gotten there. Why? Because over and over it comes to me that I have my own Barnes and Noble right here in my house. I mean, I have books I've still not read and there's classical music playing on my (1940's replica) radio and there are comfortable chairs in which to sit and the scent of coffee brewing everywhere. What more do I need?

There is a Starbucks near our Barnes and Noble which, years ago, I visited a few times, not just for the coffee, but because in the back, there was a sunny little room with tiny tables and two walls painted in luscious colors. I would sit there with a book mostly pretending just to read, because actually, I was studying that room. I made mental notes of all the details which made this room a place I loved and then I'd ask myself, "How can I create something like this in my own home?" And then I'd dig in my purse for scraps of paper and sketch a few more plans in detail. One day I even made a note to learn how to make great coffee at home--even that detail was part of the plan.

Do you ever do that? I can remember being 12 and looking at the luxurious, damask and chandelier-topped rooms in the 1971 issues of Better Homes and Gardens and then jumping up off my bed and rearranging my whole bedroom. I'd place my furniture at the same angles I'd seen in the magazine photos and then throw my rugs around in the same slap-dash style and you know what the most amazing thing was? In and through my eyes, my room with its cast-off, 2nd-hand, poor preacher's family furniture would look nearly as nice as the rooms in the magazines. Only different, of course.

I didn't see it then, but what I was really going after was a certain feeling, much more than a certain look. Even today, that holds true--and not just in decorating, either.

And well, my regular readers know I have a nasty habit of always including a lesson in my posts... so here is today's: Complaining about what we do not have is a sure way to zap creative energy and ideas. It's as though we are allowed only one kind of energy at a time.

I often remind myself (firmly) that I can either create or complain, but I cannot do both simultaneously. Complaining carries with it an ugly germ, one called Hopeless, Whining Dissatisfaction and it's been known to cause a strange type of blindness to possibilities. And once it spreads, oh my, you're stuck, usually on a couch from which you find it hard to get up.

Sometimes we don't have what we want simply because we complained instead of created... or thought we were praying, but were in reality, just plain ol' whining about what we did not have.

Or maybe we prayed for new stuff when, actually, we should have prayed for new eyes through which to view our stuff.

And it's funny, but even now when I visit inspiring places or look through magazines with creative eyes, not complaining ones, I still feel very much like that 12 year-old girl when I return home and move furniture all around or paint a wall a new, luscious color.

And admit it, you've gotta love anything that makes you feel 12 again.


***
"We should not tempt the Lord as some of them did--and were killed by poisonous serpents; Nor discontentedly complain as some of them did--and were put out of the way entirely by the destroyer...
Now these things befell them by way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax." 1 Corinthians 10:9-11

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