Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Work In Progress

I have this bad habit of starting blog posts and then not finishing them.  Last week I got into full-on rant mode about a letter to Dear Carolyn, where this lady’s husband was disabled (as in, on disability/SSI and unable to work) and her family not only didn’t believe he was disabled, but kept asking him when he was going to get off his lazy ass and get a job.  I mean, excuse me?  They don’t just put you on disability if you walk with a limp, you know.  You have to apply (often more than once) and there are hearings and doctors are called in to testify and, you know, it’s kind of a big deal.

Mind you, the closest I’ve ever come to that situation is where I had sprained my ankle really bad and was limping around on crutches, and I went with my family to dinner and the bartender (really no idea what prompted this) suddenly yelled, “Faker!  She’s faking!” for the whole restaurant to hear.  He’s lucky I didn’t sail a crutch right into his wall of nicely decorated bottles.  I can’t imagine having to deal with that kind of cr@p every DAY.  Much less from family members.  So I got all into a rant about it, but I fizzled out two paragraphs in. I kind of Didn’t Know Where To Go With That. So that was it for that blog post.

Another time I started a blog post about the Buddhist Five Precepts and how they did and didn’t relate to the Ten Commandments and Thich Nhat Hanh’s Five Mindfulness Trainings, but that was just a tiny bit esoteric and it was so boring it put my teeth to sleep.  So that one didn’t get published either.  I don’t think this sort of thing is unique to me; I’ll bet Stephen King has lots of stuff he started writing and then bailed on when he realized he was never going to be able to hook the monster up with the protagonist without a lot of mental gymnastics and an apologetic phone call to Bram Stoker.  (Incidentally, did Bram Stoker answer the phone? Because THAT would make a really good Stephen King story.)

Let’s take painting, for example.  I was just at an art museum a few days ago, and whenever I go to an art museum I invariably want to go home and paint.  I’m working on a picture of an iris (the flower, not the eyeball) and it’s not going to be great; it’s still kind of a work in progress but I can tell that nobody’s ever gonna pay $1.4 million for it at a Sotheby’s auction.  That’s okay, though.  I like painting, it’s fun and I’ve done lots worse.  Once I was taking a class and we had a nude model come in and pose for us.  I was so embarrassed that there was a naked woman in the room that I couldn’t do much more than peek at her every ten minutes or so, and what I painted ended up looking kind of like a gargoyle with a bad case of mange. You can bet that one got gessoed over really fast.  Years from now, after I die, they’ll X-ray my copy of The Beheading of St. John the Baptist by Rubens and find this really bad nude underneath it and wonder what I was thinking. I was probably thinking about how much I wished the model was wearing a dress.  (And speaking of John the Baptist’s head, I did Salome’s nose so many times trying to get it right that she looked like Michael Jackson.  My instructor had to come over and fix it for me.  Imagine, getting a nose job from a painting instructor.)  

The thing about failed first attempts at anything is, you tried it, right?  Lots of people don't bother trying anything (and criticize those who do, for reasons I'm a little unclear on.)  If your first knitted square looks like something the cat threw up, or your first silver white cake collapses in the middle, or your first painting looks like, well, a gargoyle with mange, there's no need to freak out or even show it to anybody.  (Sometimes failed first attempts are good for getting a laugh, though.)  The point is, you did it.  Maybe the next attempt will come out better.  Maybe there won't be a next attempt, because you figured out you never really wanted to learn how to knit in the first place.  But you won't know that unless you give it a try.  I didn't want to write a blog post tonight, for example, but darned if I haven't done one anyway.  Which is a good thing.  And now I'm going back to my painting.  Cheers, all.  

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