taking flight

i’d been at michigan state for maybe two full days.

my roommate, stacey, played soccer.  she’d put up a clock that looked like a soccer ball.  the first night after my parents dropped me off she told me there was a party on the third floor and left a can of beer on the dresser for me.

i grabbed paint and paper and music instead.  i found an empty room, laid out several pieces of paper, turned up the music and painted all my feelings.

at some point, i looked up and there were a few people by the windows of the closed door watching me.

the rare feeling person.

i was standing in a megachurch in ohio.  i’d been there maybe two full years.

it was the end of the service and i was standing there watching people stream to the exits.  the sermon told me that my feelings were just stupid feelings.  that feelings don’t have to rule you.  those feelings can be controlled, should be controlled.

wonderful servants.  horrible masters.

i was so relieved.

this was years before i understood depression and antidepressants.  my feelings had been my compass.  everyone with me forced to follow whatever my truth was that day.

i was relieved to hear it didn’t have to, shouldn’t be that way.

i started to walk in a different direction.

mazzy sits with me on the pier.

headphones filling her ears with beyonce, mj, janet and high school musical.  ella pointed out recently that mazzy tells you each thing she’s going to paint before she paints it.

and its true.

i’m going to start with the sky.

the bible says there is a time for every season under heaven, but it doesn’t say much about how you get from one season to the next.  and like most things, i’m an extremist.  i’ve gone from zero self-control in my emotional life to zero emotional life.

but the lord has better plans for me.

so we sit and paint.

there’s a kind of bird that hangs out down by the park that i could never paint.  it looks like a dart when it flies and how do you render the head of a bird?

i try anyway.

god has a sense of humor.

don’t let anyone tell you differently.

emotions are complicated and sometimes they are stupid and not worth entertaining.

but there are birds out there waiting for someone to paint them.  there are piers and boxes of paint.  there is music that can help you remember how you felt and there are feelings that if you ignore them for too long will reveal they have enough power to ruin your entire life.

not stupid at all.

precious in fact.

more important than all the self-control the world can offer.  but add paint, because paint can make messy things priceless.  paint turns mess into a masterpiece.


mazzy and i pack up our materials and the wind lifts up my bird painting.  it flies away over the water and lands right on the lake.  it sinks down, watercolors fully realized, and i feel just fine about that.

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