Paint It White

I like not to think. To be free of thought. I think too much. Today, I lost time. I mean, I know where it went. It went to the almost straight lines of fresh white paint along the floorboards of the place we’re soon going to live. I just focused on the painting, the brushes, the lines and sometimes the sound of Family Guy in the background, but nothing else. Not my near failure, not my self-doubt, not my poetry. Nothing but white paint.

It seems to be a somewhat regular occurrence, where at some point in the year, I swell up with doubt. What am I doing with my life? Why am I in school at all, especially if I’m not thinking the way a poet in the program should be thinking? Am I wasting my time? My money? I look through some poems, trying to propose a thesis with them, and I’m in one of those phases where I feel nothing about the work. The poems all seem flat and meaningless right now, even though I know that I wrote them for a reason, from some kind of feeling, and kept them hanging around because I thought they were good. Or something. And from this seat right now, again, I feel like a hack.

This happens every so often. It’s hard to say whether it’s more often or less since I’ve been back in academia. Maybe it’s just a different doubting. I’m surrounded by such talent. I feel like I don’t belong, I don’t know what I’m doing. I still haven’t been able to answer the question about why I write, why I create, to any satisfaction. I just know that I have to. And I know that I don’t have to be in an MFA program to continue creating. I just know that since I’ve already come this far, I might as well finish up those last 12 credits and get the degree that I’ve been working and paying for. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have learned so much from my experience at Mason, but during these phases of doubt and frustration, especially this one in particular, I’m thinking that a three-year program is just too long. Just too much.

Today I felt really connected to my Mom. I understood how she can work all day without taking a lunch break, probably without even realizing when or if she’s hungry. I understood the simple pleasure of making something clean. Painting it white, starting over. I lost myself in that. And it was good. I was glad. Even though my lines weren’t as straight as I would have liked, and even though I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped. I look forward to going back, getting lost in the bristles of the paintbrush and the grain of the wood, making it white, making it better.

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