Saturday, October 3, 2009


I wrote a facebook status this morning that sent me awhirl thinking about seasons and life and change and crap.

It's official. Autumn. I've traded shorts for sweaters, itchy allergy eyes for equally itchy eczema spots, and pesky afternoon bees for wet morning cobweb slaps across the face.

What have you traded?

It bothered me afterward that other than 'shorts for sweaters' which is a positive trade (or at worst neutral) since I am usually ready for seasonal wardrobe changes, the trades could be perceived as one negative for another.

Since then I've wondered what bothers me most about that. More whirling thoughts, but different. Is it that someone may read something that may seem negative regardless of intent and think badly of me? They may think I am always negative or they may think that I am in a crappy mood. Can a pastor's wife be in (or say she is in) a c-word mood? Is that what this is about? Is it about the things I say and the way I say them?

They may be upset that I would use the word crappy. Even though I did not actually use it, I just thought they may think it. They may suspect that my crappy language hides a deeper propensity to use worse-than-crappy language. I admit that I used to use way-way-worse-than-crappy language, but I no longer (ok, extremely rarely, and usually only when I am quoting someone else) do so. Evidenced by the fact that I now worry if my language languishes for a while at crap level. Even when it doesn't yet, until I worry about it and then it does, and I use the word crap or a derivative thereof precisely eight times, and then go up to the first sentence and put it there too because suddenly my meaningful thoughts (and the thoughts I have placed in other people's noggins) have taken an unexpected detour to the crapper. Is it wise for me to admit that this paragraph just made me laugh out loud? Probably not.

Did you ever go to a fair and pay $1.00 (you would have to add the cost of inflation over the last 35 years or so if you were interested in trying it out now) to make a spin painting? My friends and I made them every year at Cattle Congress, our town's local fair. Yes, it was really called Cattle Congress. I can smell the Tom Thumb donuts and cow crap (my apologies, I did think I had moved on) right now. A thick piece of cardboard was affixed in some manner I cannot recall at this time to the bottom of a deep cylinder that could spin with the mere flick of a switch. The painters had a few color choices in squeezy bottles at the tips of their fingers. Several painters could be at work at the same time. The secret to a beautiful masterpiece was short bursts of pure color and not too many of them. Paintings were clothespinned to a line to dry. The really wet ones dripped and the colors dulled as they were ruined by gravity. What was intended for the edges gradually forged an ugly path down the middle. Those were usually left on the line, unclaimed at the end of the day.

I stand above the canvas carefully choosing colors and placing them in layers. I try so hard. I pin the results on the line proudly sometimes knowing they are good, but more often I suspect the colors will bleed. I reach over and add a bit of red to yours without asking and I think you've squeezed some red on mine out of spite. Only you are unaware of the red from me and I can't see the red that's supposedly from you because they are not really there. Because those colors are not real. Here's what's real. I've managed to give my own painting a double shot of muddy brown. A really real one.

We've begun a new Bible study. It's about our thoughts, the things that we tell ourselves that no one else hears, and truth. Here's one. I'm not nice to me. I suspect others of thinking of me what I think of me, but I forget that I am hardest on myself. I don't judge others as harshly as I judge me. I can assume others don't judge me as harshly as I think they do. I think you are probably too hard on yourself too. Do you put words in other people's heads that aren't there? Maybe you've put words in my head. Trust me, I'm not thinking them. I'm too busy thinking I think I know all the bad stuff you are thinking about me.

I hope that my work, even the crappy stuff, makes yours better. I hope that it helps you see where you can place your own colors. We can hang it all up to dry and pass it on to someone else to enjoy and add their own color and spin. Your work, your lives, do that for me.

I'm thinking that I still have a lot of trades to make. I need to rid myself of a load in exchange for pure color. Regularly. Care to go for a spin?

1 comment:

Tracy P. said...

"I'm tradin' my sorrows, I'm tradin' my pain..."

I couldn't help it. It's a good, upbeat reminder.

I was in a Bible study last spring where I received a great gift. One lesson used the analogy of changing radio stations to describe the "song" or the "tape" that automatically starts in our minds in certain situations. I was struggling with my boy at the time, and realized in my mind I would launch into, "He is SO ...." (fill in any number of ugly adjectives) whenever he did one of his things. I learned to replace it with, "He is immature, but he is learning, and I can help." I still need to switch out some tapes. So freeing.