Yesterday, we were sitting in the café at Marks and Spencers having a very, very late lunch. Daughter and I were talking about Lydia's Art Academy - a local art school where you can go and have lessons/encouragement/space to do your stuff for a couple of hours. My mother and my daughter used to go, a friend has just started going, and I have my eye on the possibilities of finding time to go myself, and maybe even take my mother back there on a regular basis.
Daughter:"What would you do there?"
Me: "A large, angry painting, about six foot square, all in PINK." I was a little disconcerted at what I said. Why PINK! And why did I say the colour with such venom? Why large, and angry? And why did saying those words suddenly shake my composure?
Daughter: "Pink? And what would you do with the painting?"
Me: I just shrug. I can't remember what I said. I was busy blowing my nose, cleaning my glasses, bringing myself back under control. I do remember thinking that I would just jump up and down on the paining and burn it when it was finished.
Large - well, that speaks for itself.
Angry - I AM angry. I am angry with what has happened, I am angry with what is happening, I am angry with how we are all tired and fractious, I am angry about everything that has to be done, everything that isn't getting done. I am angry about all the time that get swallowed up, I am angry about watching the clock, scheduling the days, using every moment, remembering every appointment, remembering every pill. I am angry with the past, the present and the future.
PINK! Pink, to me represents the constant carefulness, the constant consideration, the constant self monitoring of everything I do and say. It represents enduring other people's rudeness, other people's lack of energy, other people's lethargy and laziness and failure to get things done and negativity. I'm not pointing the finger at anyone in particular. Not at my family, not at my parents. I encounter the same issues with music students who slump onto the piano stool and say "I'm so TIRED" - do they expect ME to input all the energy into the lesson? "It's too HARD" - do they expect me do to all the work of encouraging them mini-step by mini-step through the process of learning? "I don't know what the notes are?" FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! How long have I been telling you what these notes are?
On the whole, like training dogs and managing toddlers, losing your temper, blowing your top, sarcastic replies, shouting, is all counter-productive. To get results, you rein in your first response "Don't be so bloody rude!" "For once in your life shuddup moaning and just persevere for longer than 20 seconds before you throw in the towel!". Instead you say to your self "a soft answer turneth away wrath" and make some sweetly inoffensive response, or you say encouragingly, gently, "try another little go - just play the first note - now add one more note - try playing those two notes again a couple of times - see it's easier now - shall we risk a third note? Oh well done! That's so good, let's do that again, have a sticker!"
(I have also been known to hold up the sticker and the scissors and threaten to cut the monkey's head off if you miss that F sharp again - and I did -and to threaten a boy with the pointed end of my pencil... my word, they sharpened up and started playing properly! But you have to pick your moment - and your pupil)
And the nose blowing? I knew that my "engine" is running a bit hot. That was a salutary warning about how close the needle is to the red zone.
Let's find a piece of paper. And some pink paint!
Ah. Feeling better already.