The Zen of Porch Painting



Painting the porch today I had lots of time to think. Wax on. Wax off. You original Karate Kid fans would appreciate that. I also thought of Tom Sawyer and how he abhorred whitewashing the fence. Since I’m not a young boy I figured I could handle this. Well, instead of being zen as Mr. Miyagi would have suggested, I started letting those negative thoughts get to me.

As an adult, I was a student of Karate until I was ready to test for my black belt. Anyone who’s undergone the process can talk about the extreme rigors of it. Due to a turn of personal events, that included me learning energetic healing techniques in which I used my hands, I decided to step away from the martial art of “empty hand.”  I couldn’t use my hands as both a healing and hurting tool. For me, I said, just for me. There is no judgment coming from me towards those who are able to do both. I respect martial arts- and much of what it provides.

Thinking about fighting led to thoughts on bullying. A segment on television this week told the story about a bully who became victim when the target lost control and retaliated in a horrendous way. Of course, being me, my thoughts turned to writing. I voiced them to my spouse. “I guess all bullies don’t turn out to be Mr. Nice Guy (or Ms. Nice Gal) when they grow up, do they?” I told her about having a research article published a few years back in a well respected journal. It was part of a job duty I had at the time. After presenting it at the staff meeting, a senior person picked it up and sniped “This is what we paid for?” Those words stung but I kept moving forward. In Doctoral school when I presented my chosen dissertation project, a handful of students declared with disgust, “Why would you want to study that?” My topic was about the spiritual practices of people living with HIV/AIDS. I completed the study anyway. My PhD is framed hidden on some shelf, somewhere, but it’s actually in my chest. Karate, graduate school, scathing critiques are part of my arsenal of defense. Defense against my negative thinking that comes forward when I’m in the middle of porch painting. In my heart, I hear encouragement to move forward.

When I was tiny my Mother used to tell me a story when we were sitting on the stoop or I wouldn’t stay still for my nap. She told me that she wanted me very much but it took me a while to show up. She told me it was because God had been looking and looking and looking for the right heart for me. When he finally found it, I was then ready to be born. Today, this carries significance for me in so many areas. When the timing is right, it will be. Persistence and perseverance are the keys. Follow your heart and you can’t go wrong. In my child’s mind when my Mom told me that story, I imagined myself sitting on the side of the road on a rock, waiting for God to show up with my right heart.

Sometimes I continue to sit there. Sometimes by myself but most often not. I wait until the time is right. Wax on, wax off.