painting a stool

One problem doesn’t go away from my head, so I decide to varnish three old stools, peeled by age. I cultivate some illogical beliefs like throwing a party when things are really bad, or dealing with my hands when my head is too full.

I soon discover that each stool has four legs, each with four sides, therefore sixteen, which, with the sixteen sides of its four beams, already add up to thirty-two surfaces to be painted, apart from the seat and its supports, phew!

Then I discover that each leg of the stool has, at half height, two half-inch-wide grooves, where the brush needs to be neat so that it doesn’t fail. It’s the dictatorship of details. And a very soaked brush runs out, forming bubbles of varnish, but also, if you leave the brush dry, the service doesn’t pay; and so it is necessary to be aware of each brushstroke.

. | personal collection

Too late, I find it’s best to paint the stool with its feet up, so it doesn’t splash on the floor. Then I remember nonno José saying that, first of all, and in order not to end up making mistakes, it is necessary to think before starting to do anything. I have to cover my hand with a cloth to turn the stool, picking up one of the painted feet, then repainting it, but the lesson applies to the second stool, and then I remember Darwin, evolution is a correction of attempts.

When I see it, I’m so focused on the stools that that problem went out of my mind. It’s a dynamic meditation, putting your hands together to do something as meticulous as it is repetitive, leaving your mind alone.

Then I remember that, when we pray, we repeat words that, because they are so repeated, have lost their meaning, but this ritual repetition is like mental anesthesia for the ills of the world in us. Boy, I asked Grandma Tiana why she prayed the rosary on the porch every evening, and she smiled: – Oh, boy, it’s not to ask for anything, no, it’s just because it’s so good…

I also remember that working with your hands carefully is the basis of hobbies, which can be as intense as passengers. As when I fell in love with collecting coins as a teenager (and collections are still repetitions of the same thing in its variety), later I don’t even remember who I once gave my numismatic collection to.

But hobbies can also be permanently therapeutic. My mother loved taking care of ferns, whose branches descended from tall pots to reach the living room floor, so she would guide the leaves to rise on themselves, looking like a green waterfall. One day, I told her that ferns and ferns are among the oldest plants on Earth, and she said that they really must be, as sensitive as they are, some would wither when praised by envious people…

The varnish is so dark that the stools don’t look varnished but painted brown. But they were shiny, old stools ready for a new life. Then it comes to my mind how to solve that problem I forgot taking care of the stools.

So: depression, boredom, despondency? Tangled problems that don’t seem to have a place to pick up to unroll? Put your hands to work whatever your heart tells you, even if it’s just painting stools…

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