I’ve thought about this quote many times, and for the life of me I can’t remember who said it. Its as if it’s more important to tell people who you’ve read not what they’ve said.
“…comes from within.” for me; from within my little room, my room, the reflection of me the SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) does not want anyone else to see. OK with me.
Perhaps a tour is in order. Enter through a plain white door, opposite the linen closet at the end of a short, narrow corridor. Beyond that door is a room of deep deep red, white base boards, a simple shaker style desk with two shelves over it; on the walls: a poster of the Monterey Peninsula (home, and I’m not there), a print containing historic stationery watermarks spanning four centuries, a water colour of Puget Sound, Van Gogh’s Stary Night and Ansel Adams’ Mural Project 1941-1942 (some not all).
There’s one window that doesn’t get much light most of the illumination is from a 1950’s reading lamp next to the mustard coloured wing back chair (1940’s), a desk lamp from the 20’s and the five bulbs in the ceiling fan behind me. And there are the book cases and the books that have spilled from their shelves to the floor in haphazard piles.
The pictures on the walls say much, but it is the top shelves that speak volumes about the man in red room.
Above the desk, on the first shelf, three sketch pads (ink, charcoal, pencil), a bucket of ball point, roller ball and sharpie pens, two books borrowed from a friend that I must return (I’ve had them for three years now), an empty mason jar (?) and a line level. I learned late in life what my grandfather meant when he said, “on the level”, and that four inch tool is there as a reminder to keep it honest.
On the top shelf an Tyco orangutang just because its fun, a wooden rack that holds my (personalized) stationery and my very favorite fountain pen. The rack must be refilled on a regular basis and frequent trips to Art Lite (the quintessential pen store in Atlanta) for proper ink are required (I am an iconoclast).
To the left of the desk, under the watermarks, is the 19th century music rack (knockoff) that holds my reference books but on top; a jade tree with two mud men sitting and playing Go and set apart a chunk of quartz with a small carving of a Japanese couple having tea and looking on (my own touch).
But it is atop the impressive book case, opposite the desk that is the most telling. There are the bears, two of them; the first a large fuzzy, bespectacled hand puppet and the second a bronze figure of a beast that rips a fish from its water. That’s me, both of them, before, during and after the therapy, meds and ECT. The SWMBO is embarrassed by that part of the ‘red room’.
It was the beast that made me run away from home (at 28) and hide on a mountain for a few years, my needs were simple, but food was one, I needed money. I was able to use what limited skills I had with a hammer and saw and worked with a fire restoration crew. Just enough work to feed me and enough material in scraps to enhance my life style (zb; walls were insulated a foot at a time, the dry wall in the living room looked like a jig saw puzzle). The foremost improvement was a new skill I gained, I could lay brick.
Over the course of a year, using red brick, burnt brick, new brick, old brick, I built a wall. It was perfect, double brick, six feet high, finished top, and for feet long, set in the middle of a field of wild flowers, on the top of a mountain. I searched garage sales, flea markets and garbage dumps until I found a kitchen table and a comfortable wooden chair. I planted them five feet from the wall. I’d also found several dozen coffee mugs, cups, saucers and gathered them in a large box that went under the kitchen table in the field of wild flowers on the top of a mountain, five feet from my perfect brick wall.
When ever I found I could not forgive myself for something in the past or just felt a rage building within, I made a pot of coffee in the old enameled percolator. When that was done, I would take the pot with me up the path to the kitchen table, in the field of wild flowers at the top of the mountain; sit in the comfortable wooden chair, and I would pour the coffee into a cup from under the table and I would sip. I would sip and I would let all the anger or guilt or guilt-anger build up, no stops and at its peak I would smash that cup against my perfect brick wall.