Monday, July 09, 2012

A painter's greed

I'm not normally a greedy person.  Not with money, not with time, not with anything.  I strive to be as generous as I can.  Rarely though, something will happen in my life and I'll catch myself thinking "but that's mine!" and getting upset.  Normally catching myself doing this is enough to shock me into rethinking whatever I had run across to make me think that and normally I change my mind, let it go, and move on.

Well that's not what happened to me this morning.  Not even close.

I've been painting a house for my best friend's mom and while I'm working there, I'm leaving my tools at her house.  If she needs to use my screwdriver or a ladder or pretty much anything else; that's fine with me.  I don't care if people use my things.  I just hope they bring them back in the same shape they borrowed them in.  When I got to her house this morning though, I found an old, ratty paint brush that I've used for years as a duster; completely covered in thick, half dry oil paint.

I've had this brush for nearly a decade I'd imagine.  For years I'd paint with it, then immediately clean it up, and generally baby it.  I baby all of my brushes like this.  You can't paint a good line with a bad brush.  It just doesn't work that way, so I like to take care of my brushes.  Eventually though, even good brushes get ratty, old, and tattered.  This brush got there a long time ago and I've just kept it around as a duster.  It's a job old oil brushes excel at.

Finding my duster hardened up with paint this morning threw me into a rage for some reason.  Not the type of rage where I break things or yell at people.  My rages are quiet and generally stay inside my head.  But even inside the safety of my head, this anger was horrible.  I don't know why someone ruining a 10 year old duster made me so upset, but boy did it.  With my headphones on and my ipod playing one of the church's podcasts that I subscribe to, I fumed over that brush for an hour wondering why someone would ruin MY duster like that.

During that hour, the brush sat in a bucket of paint thinner.  I might not be able to bring it back completely, but keeping that duster around was worth trying.  (Yes, I fully realize that I have an unhealthy attachment to this paint brush; and, no, I can't explain why that's so.)  and for that hour, I quietly wanted to scream and yell, and break all sorts of things.  At least, I wanted to do them in my head.  I would hope I wouldn't actually do those things to other people.

About 11:00 this morning I went down to grab another bucket of paint.  By this time I had given up on being upset.  It was just a brush, and it wasn't even one I painted with; being that upset was just unwarranted.  I could get a new duster.  While in the garage, I checked on the brush.  Sitting in that paint thinner for so long, every drop of that paint had weakened and come off.  Even more, all the old paint which had sat around the base of the brush for over 5 years had come off.  Brad's mom hadn't ruined my duster.  Brad's mom had used my brush the way it was intended and, in doing so, given me back that old brush that I have such an inexplicable attachment to.

Greed often shows up in our lives like this.  Either it's someone taking the parking spot we were waiting on, or a roommate borrowing a shirt without asking, or any number of things; don't we often scream silently inside our heads (or loudly, outside of them) "That's mine!"  We worry too much about the things we want and not enough about what others need.  I wanted to keep that duster clean so that it would be around for as long as possible.  That's what I wanted.  Brad's mom needed a paint brush to paint a door.  She needed something.  And just as how Brad's mom using that brush wound up bringing it back to me in a way I never would have imagined; often, when we give the things we want to those who actually need them, those gifts are blessed and come back in awesome ways.

And let me tell you, painting all afternoon with that old, ratty duster felt great.  That old brush, inspected by Laura, still lays down a great coat of paint.  And I would have never realized that if someone else hadn't needed something of mine more than I did.

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