Sunday, August 19, 2012
Watching paint peel
Watching paint peel
We often use the metaphor of watching paint dry to indicate dull, uninspired or just plain slow behavior or action. Well, there is the other end of the spectrum: watching paint peel. It happens when the paint has been on for a long time.
This is the year, it seems, that gutters, tractors, trucks and wheelbarrows all have reached some predestined limit on utility and service. I admit that most of the equipment we use to maintain our place is old; fifteen to twenty years would be perhaps a mid-life crisis for some of what we use. The oldest, a 63-year-old tractor, while still valiantly carrying on without a stumble, needs work. So does the fifteen-year-old tractor I use for mowing. And the 30-year-old pick-up, while it still can climb any mountain, haul any load, looks a bit down in the suspension, as it were, with a decided tilt at one corner when loaded. As for the buildings, well there is some evidence that time has played here too. Gutters have shifted, seals are worn, downspouts need constant cleaning as the forest surrounding the house has grown up and up and more inclined to drop twigs and seeds and pine cones and an occasional branch.
Some days, when I walk in the woods or fields surrounding the house, I make lists of things I need to do, things that should be replaced or repaired or just cleaned up. I know what needs to be done, I know how to do it, I just don’t always get around to it until it is a near emergency. In spite of our organized attempts at keeping fresh and up-to-date, regardless of how often we make plans to do something about it, life continues to progress at it’s own rate.
Growing older is sort of like that: little by little, the once-smooth surface of life begins to crinkle and crack. The tightness of skin becomes a problem, drawing too tight for the underlying muscle, slowly peeling, like a bad sunburn, except that at some point you begin avoiding the sun and it still doesn’t help.
Life peels just like paint.