|M. Kelly for Rubbermoon|
Two new chair stamps are part of my in-the-works collection for Rubbermoon. Keeping them company will be the phrase, "When in doubt, sit. Sit and Color." It all comes down to the point of a pencil.
Unlike writing, which usually gives me a stiff neck when I use the computer, which I mostly do, coloring, drawing and eraser carving send my mind and body to different rooms. Bickering children, they need to be separated to chill out.
When first creating samples for the stamp company, I worked with fine-tip brush markers. Coloring the images went quickly and shading was possible thanks to Marvy's extensive palette. It was a peaceful occupation, quieting thought, slowing heart rate.
When I switched to pencils because the colors were even more plentiful, the shading and layering possibilities more abundant, I smoothed out like a freshly ironed shirt. Later I realized this must be a meditative state, as everything beyond the tip of the sharpened pencil faded, caught the next bus out of town.
The doodling aspect of drawing produces the same effect. It feels like giving the Big Thoughts mind a paid holiday. All is reduced to one non-thought. Yes, the mind roams and rambles but doesn't latch on to anything, doesn't go dig up the bone it buried yesterday near the azaleas. Without its feet touching the ground, it muses upon the memory of the garden, recalls the verses of "Oh, Sussanah" and sees the forgotten, unforgettable drawer where it left the yellow, leather-bound journal five years ago.
I've been doing that kind of coloring for more than 17 years. To achieve a state even distantly resembling real peace demanded incorporating other philosophies, becoming more intentional about disengaging from my fret-prone self. I have learned that a spiritual practice take unanticipated forms.
As the mania, my slavish devotion to the cult of the color pencil, has held steady for all these years, through personal and world changes never imagined, I think we have what my sister would call A Keeper. For today, I sharpen the pencils by hand, though that color-core-chewing, battery-operated model has not be abandoned. There is even contemplative satisfaction to be found in turning the pencil just enough, while knowing the job will have to be done again in a few minutes. In the days when I wanted to believe that self-help books were my path to enlightenment, there was one, unread, called Chop Wood, Carry Water. At least its title helped put small, ordinary tasks in a greater context.