The main wall of our home runs down the center of the entire house. It is enormous and has been in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint for about 3 years. There are dings, dents, scratches and chips. And as a bonus, it is topped off with an abstract mural of dog drool that has crusted itself onto our walls. So, in the interest of getting our house ready to sell, I painted it. Finally. With each roll, I watched the new paint take its rightful place as it overlaid the dings and scratches left on this battered wall. With a bittersweet heaviness in my heart, I took a deep breath and I started a fresh layer.
Painting has become a sort of therapy for me over the years, particularly when working through times of loss, reflection and looming change. This painting project was no exception. I got my supplies together and as I was prepping the walls, I took notice to my paint roller. It was one that was gifted to me by my sister-in-law as a housewarming gift, 10 years ago. Every color is accounted for on that roller. I smirked to myself thinking about how much painting I’ve done in this house. Each room has been painted at least once, if not twice. Each time held a particular significance to me.
So when I held the roller, I began thinking that we are very much like the main wall of this house; our experiences, our successes and our losses are like layers of paint on our wall. No longer visible, but always present, they’re there…blanketing that main wall. The wall remains steadfast and strong, even though it's been scratched and dented. We persevere. We fight. We keep painting.
I began thinking about navigating through a world where people’s most intimate news is shared publicly, everyday. You capture a glimpse of their world around you, a world that would remain otherwise invisible. Their pain becomes your pain. Their celebrations become your celebrations. Their village is part of your village. We're all painting our next layer.
We start out as daughters and sons. We become lovers of animals, caregivers, sisters, brothers, friends- layer, layer…layer. We educate ourselves, we go to school, we fall down and we get back up- layer, layer, layer…layer. We graduate, move out, earn jobs. We create, we learn, we grow. Lose a friend, add a layer. Lose a parent, add a layer. Go back to school, add a layer. We become business executives, doctors, public servants, students, attorneys, husbands, wives, partners…parents. Roll. Roll. Roll. We fight cancer, we lose our most precious loves, we say goodbye. Brush. Brush. Brush. Lose a child, add a layer. Birth a child, add a layer. Adopt a child, add a layer.
Sand, tape, brush, roll. Repeat.
And while there are some layers that are almost burned into our walls, where the heaviness of life and it’s random cruelty becomes almost suffocating- it’s those layers that have laid the foundation and structure for the ones to come. The onion doesn't continue to grow if a middle layer is removed. It can only continue if the one that came before it is ready to be built upon. So we keep painting and layering, and building upon our main wall. We remain steadfast in our original layers. We are daughters, sons, lovers of animals, caregivers, brothers, sisters and friends. We do our best in everything else we’ve chosen to become…our 'from scratch,' layers. We do our best in powering through the layers we never planned for, that left us dented, scratched and chipped. We persevere. We fight.
WE KEEP PAINTING.
Here's to your next layer.
Stay hungry, my friends.