Meet my neighbor, Mr Monk

I am not a perfectionist.  Never have been, never will be, and if you know me at all you know this very well…….maybe a little too well.

I prefer the ‘artistic’ approach to things, dislike straight lines in general, and will purposefully color a bit outside the box if given the opportunity, because I find that beautiful and freeing.  I am drawn to imperfect smiles and have been known to deliberately choose what some might consider asymmetrical design.   Take what you will from this admission, but that is the long and short of it.

As such a person, imagine my mild horror when my soon-to-be neighbor led me to a dot the size of a pencil on my freshly painted wall, revealing the ‘frightful mess’ they had made of my home.

I stare. I see nothing but paint, nice looking, level paint on a wall.

“Um….Scott….I am sorry, but don’t see what you’re talking about.”

“This!”

At this moment he points a lethal finger at the proposed fleck of paint, as if it has committed the crime of the century and deserves to die a horrible death.  With eyebrows raised higher than I knew eyebrows could go, his finger still planted next to the said dot, he awaits my realization that it truly is the end of the world as we know it.

No words, I have no words. But I must say something, he’s still staring at the wall with eyes as big as the moon.

I come closer to where he’s pointing and squint so I can see the thing.  Ah ha, there it is….I think.

Hmm. When I say this speck was the size of a pencil tip, I’m not talking about the eraser side, I’m talking about the tip. You know, the part you write with?

“Um…Scott, is this dot what you’re concerned about?”

“Well OF COURSE I am.  It’s a disgrace of unsaid measure.  Don’t worry though dear, I already reported it to the manager, they’re going to fix it. But, if I were you, I’d say something, things like this just shouldn’t happen.”

“Hmm…no..I suppose they shouldn’t…..but I’m sure things will turn out ok. You’re….ah….. really good at noticing these things. Something of a perfectionist?”

At this he lowers his hand from the wall and looks at the floor, mumbling something that sounds yes and nods his head slowly.

“Ah, that’s cool, I’m not one myself, but I’m glad there are people like you who can watch out for people like me, warning us of things like these this.”

I turn to point my finger at the fleck on the wall, but quickly realize I have no idea where it is and have no hope of finding it ever again on my own.   Not wanting to crush this dear old man’s spirits,  I wave my hand in the general direction instead and ask what he does for a living.

“Oh, I restore old guitars.”

He gestures past his front door and I peer inside.  The place is immaculate, just as I imagined it would be, a dazzling array of at least a dozen gleaming guitars distributed across each perfectly painted wall.

“Wow, your place is amazing.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve sanded down all my walls,  and I repaint at least once every six months.”

Ah….of course.

I wasn’t talking about the lack of invisible dots on the wall when I said his place was amazing, but decide not to correct him.  I see him honing in on one corner of the room rather intently.

“But THIS, this drives me absolutely nutty every day of my life. It is my nemesis, the first thing I see in them morning and the last thing that wanders through my brain before I fall asleep. “

He points to another dreaded dot on the wall, this one smaller than the one in my place. I’m only convinced it exists because he tells me so and am beginning to believe that he notices detail no one else ever sees. As he stares at the invisible invader of his home I can see him begin to become increasingly irritated.

 “Well, I can’t imagine anyone else really notices it Scott. You know, it’s pretty small.” 

“Yeah….maybe……”

Very slowly he pries his eyes away from the dot, only looking back at it over his shoulder a few times as he walks back outside with me.  I thank him for the very timely warning and wave goodbye.

I have to wonder why he chooses to leave that one spot on his wall. I mean, he’s sanded everything else down, why not take that out too?  I imagine it says a lot more than first meets the eye, no pun intended.  For him, that’s growth, a sign that his obsessive compulsive nature hasn’t gotten the better of him, not yet. He fights his battle every morning by leaving that dot where it is and, eventually, walking away from it.

I can’t help but admire that.

I just hope I don’t drive him crazy with the scattered array of flowers I let randomly play outside my front door, or the way my curtain doesn’t fall just so.   For all I know he’s writing his own story about the little wildflower girl next door who drives him berserk.

Ah, my dear Mr Monk, I think we shall get along splendidly.

Do you know what my favorite part of this picture is?  The little purple flower on the right. Oh, poor Scott.

Standing in the Rain

Sometimes when it rains I feel like the sky is telling a story to the world, a mystery of sorts without an ending.  It’s not the kind of thing clear skies can do, for in sunshine there seems some sense of conclusiveness, as if it’s destination has somehow been reached.  Rain and storm beckons the still and quiet soul to watch and listen to what can hardly be put into words.  But then, even if there were such a word, would it really do it justice?

There are some things far too deep and rich to fit into a word, things that simply exceed all our attempts to define them. The trouble is, hearts that hear un-worded tales desire their translation, preservation and expression for those who do not, or  perhaps purely for the sake of knowing it more deeply for themselves.

Rainstorm, waves of the sea, eyes of beauty and depth, music, color, love, wind….forever mysteries no matter how many times they’re explained or expressed.  None of us can truly hold them in our mind for long, they escape and enchant us as they pass, capturing our gaze forever.  We must return, we cannot help ourselves.

To catch and claim the wind, the sea or the mountaintop is not our true desire, but something in us still yearns to.  We sing, we speak, paint and write, we sculpt and mold and define, trying to capture that which alludes us.  And well we should.   These things whisper secrets our deepest soul understands but cannot yet know entirely.  Our mind searches and scrapes, trying with all it’s might to wrap it’s arms around that which beats with our heart, but it cannot quite be done.  One day perhaps, in another place, and maybe that is why we try.

And what, for now, shall we do with these beautiful wonders after we’ve danced and sung and shaded their shadows onto paper?  I imagine we must once again learn to wonder with them.  Children tend to know something about this, though such wisdom never seems to last very long.

We learn so quickly to claim and take and define, to categorize and judge, to think our mind is the extent of the knowledge of an object or person or an idea.  If what we behold seems to exceed what our mind can hold, we limit it rather than admit that we are what limits us.  Expression is vital and good, but at some point we must stop and simply watch.  I think we’ve lost the art of wonder and stillness in the presence of something bigger than what we see.  And with that, we’ve lost the ability to partake in great beauty, beauty that might point us to something greater than ourselves.

As I watch the mystery of falling rain outside my window, I must allow the unknown to sit with me a while, the un-captured to pass through, enjoying what it teaches me as it disappears into the sky . I must ponder the subtle tale it tells, knowing I really won’t be able to retell it in full.  And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing indeed.

Lessons in a box

The art of moving from one place to another has the potential of imparting great wisdom to a person, at least to a person such as myself. For instance, within the span of one week I learned (or re-learned) the following lessons out of pure necessity:

Lesson number one:  My ability to set-up, connect or otherwise functionally assemble anything technical or electronic is still quite dreadful, if not non-existent.  I knew this before, I know it even better now.

I’m afraid my artistic nature and creative approach to life does not, in this case, serve me well in the slightest.  It is with great reluctance I must admit there is some value in reading those  drearily unimaginative instructions I so ardently avoid on most occasions.  Without them I found myself sitting in a rather colorful display of useless (but very attractive) wiring that went nowhere and did nothing.

So in case you were wondering, color coordinating DVD cords to construct an aesthetically pleasing display along the wall will not result in a functional piece of anything.

And yet, there is something rather satisfactory about it…

Lesson number two:  I have friends who will insist on helping me move with a fractured foot (sans cast) for twelve hours straight.  I have some good friends.

Final lesson:   The morning after twelve hours of lifting and carrying boxes up and down stairs will quite accurately reveal how fit you actually are.

Or are not.

Ahem, yes, well, one always has room for improvement.   Seeing the difficulty in working-out muscles I didn’t know I had,  I am grateful to painfully discover their existence.

My friend Espresso

There is no greater motivation to get up in the morning than that drawling feeling in the back of your head warning that a caffeine headache is fast on it’s way, coupled with the realization that you’re clean out of coffee.

HELLO. I’m up.

If the day suggests no immediate duty to fulfill, this usually means a trip to Corner Bakery, my go-to place when I need to escape the world, or said drawling feeling in the back of my head.

The place has a mellow, reposeful atmosphere, conducive for writing, resting, or otherwise enjoying a comfortable chair whilst not having to fight my dogs for a place upon it. It is most definitely not the place I stop by for a coffee to-go, oh what a waste that would be!

Marvelous places like this beg one’s unhurried repose and enjoyment.

Someone once pointed out to me that the atmosphere there is kindly reminiscent of an old familiar home, not  the cold rows of strange, solitary cubicles you might find elsewhere.  Nothing against Panera in general (their coffee is quite good) but the ambience  is nothing like that of the Corner.  The colors are sharper and brighter, the ceiling seems closer, and I always have the distinct sense that I’m surrounding by dozens of machines that oughtn’t be disturbed…..why is that?

And besides all that, Panera’s chairs are rather irksome and unyielding. I cannot understand them.

But I digress.  All I really meant to say was, there is nothing quite like knowing those two shots of espresso are doing their job, whilst sitting in a room where no one knows your name, yet somehow you are not a stranger.

Espresso, mmmm.  Espresso would be a fine name for a dog, don’t you think? Either that or Thesaurus, one cannot have a dog name Thesaurus who lacks personality I should think.  Bear was actually Thorbin before he was Bear, and though that might have been a much more fantastic name, I had to weigh the risk of naming my dog after the Bear of Thor, which, as I recall,  is what the name means in greek mythology.

One can never be too cautious when assigning names to living things, there is something terribly real about the whole thing.  They tend to live up to them somehow.

Perhaps I ought to consider the name Quietude in the future…