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Painting a Chair, When It Is Just Painting a Chair


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There was something meditative about it. The cleaning of the old rocking chair, knocking off dust, noticing all the nicks and cuts, and the gnawed parts where a pup long grown and long gone from cancer had chewed in his puppy-breathed delighted boredom. I sighed, remembering that dog, and other dogs. I pressed my fingertip to a particularly roughened spot, imagining I could still feel his teeth marks as they were before, sharp not dulled.

Chair clean, I gathered my tools: paintbrush, paint, cloth.

Taking my time, I brushed paint carefully in slow back and forth motions. Never before had I considered that painting could be relaxing and calm. There was no hurry. I’d do it right, as right as I knew how. But if it didn’t turn out perfectly, no matter, for it was an old rocking chair that I could experiment on. Even the paint color was an experiment, a black that didn’t look black at all but matte gray.

As I painted, it occurred to me that if I painted chairs for a living, or if I were painting that chair to sell, everything would be different. Everything. I’d be a little more aware of every stroke of that brush, but in a tense way: get it right, exact, no mistakes allowed, and is that paint color really what you wanted, is it what the client will want, is it what the boss will want? And hurry. There are other chairs to paint! Hurry! Get it done! Get it right!

How happy was I to know I was only painting an old chair and however it turned out would be okay. I could repaint it if I didn’t like the color. Or if I messed up, I’d fix it. I could take one hour, a day, a week, a month. There was no one over my shoulder telling me I better hurry up with that chair.

Well now. Wait. I sat back on my heels and smiled at the moment of Aha.

This is how I used to write, my friends. Just as I am writing now. Directly onto this writer unboxed blank page. I’m not writing this in Word, and then going over it and over it and over it. I barely have the paint washed from my hands. There is still paint in my hair, on my face, on my clothes. Oh, who cares, right? I will clean up soon enough. I had to come to you here, and tell you how my meditation over an old rocking chair opened up a portal of understanding that I’d forgotten.

That has been the missing link.

Shall we write in a meditation? A state of comfort and of joy and of peace? See where it leads us? We can tidy up our mistakes. We can change the color. We can ease our shoulders.

Join me?

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About Kathryn Magendie

TENDER GRACES, Magendie's first novel, was an Amazon Kindle Number 1 best-seller. She's a freelance editor, content editor at Edge of Arlington, personal trainer, and former Publishing Editor of The Rose & Thorn. Her short stories, essays, poetry, and photography have been published in print and online publications. Her novels are available in print and ebook. She lives in the Smoky Mountains in a little log house in the Cove at Killian Knob in Maggie Valley, Western North Carolina with her wonky-toothed little dog named lil Bear. Sometimes there is vodka in the freezer. Critters love her. Crows follow her around. Some or all of this is likely true.

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