Saturday, March 31, 2007

Since I'll Be Painting Today...

... I thought I'd re-run this post. Judy mentioned 'invisible audiences' this week and she reminded me of these words from last year.

I discovered Joyce Maynard's Domestic Affairs when it first sat upon bookstore shelves 19 years ago, and after checking it out from libraries in three states, I finally bought a copy for myself. And now that I own a copy I am crazily underlining in it, for instructional and inspirational reasons, all the sentences I love. (With some people, you start talking about underlining in books and they gasp and never look at you in the same, kind way afterward. As for me, I not only love underlining, but also scribbling little notes in the margins. So there. Deal with it.)

Anyway, this morning these are the lines I underlined:

"I asked Steve..., 'how many of your friends' mothers worked? At jobs outside the home...' He thought a moment. His own mother never held a job, until her four children were in high school and college. She is one of those women (that dying breed) who made running a home her art. More than once, over the years, I've heard my mother-in-law say, "I loved being a housewife. Those were the best years of my life."

Wow. Especially the "...she made running a home her art" part. I read lines like that and sometimes they are enough to make me slap the book shut, jump up and go play artist.

My home, and yours, too, has a menagerie of canvases. There are walls and floors and whole rooms waiting to be painted or decorated or rearranged...
...table tops screaming for an interesting still-life to be created upon them, kitchen shelving left wanting for dishes to be arranged in eye-pleasing ways and the great music of the centuries to be played like the soundtrack of my life... crying for just the right curtains, walls hinting for the perfect paintings and open shelving begging for better-placed books and knick-knacks...
...books about your particular house-style, and what look fits it best, waiting to be studied... pages to be ripped out of decorating magazines for ideas...
...pillowcases and dishtowels to be embroidered upon, pies to be baked and then cooled upon counter tops, soups to be simmered on back burners, releasing scents upon fabric and walls...

There are Real World homes with children inside, children with creative, pliable minds waiting to be molded, inspired and challenged... Children wanting to color and paste and fingerpaint... And there are homes with spouses asking for friendship, laughter and adventures or vacations still untaken... and wanting to co-create a home of dreams-come-true...

Actually, there are more canvases in the average home than an awake artist can ever fill in just one lifetime.

And yet, we pause, we wait to become home artists. We wait for permission or inspiration or just the perfect, distraction-free day. Most of all, I think we wait for the applause of unseen crowds cheering us on, shouting encouraging words about domestic, home-created art being important, vital art, even in 2006.

But that applause does not come and many people walk away because they cannot create in the silence.

Yet, for those who stay, there arrives a time when we must begin painting and molding and creating on our own, in that quiet place, because it suddenly hits us: the world is not saying what we have been waiting to hear. The world is not cheering for us and they are not in our corner.

The world is not applauding people who pick the Homemaker Card from the Career Box. Nor are they cheering most people who are out dancing to the beats of the most different Drummer of them all.

But something life-altering happens when we reach for the paint brush or instruction books or maps or take a child's hand--and go ahead and create in the silence, with not a soul in those empty, imaginary seats...We feel the artist in us breathing first breaths when we just step back (with paint on our fingers) and admire the work of our hands... and hear no cheering except our own... or maybe a child's ... or maybe God's.

The smile of perfect contentment appears and we discover it--all of it-- is more than enough.

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