Monday, August 18, 2008

Chop Wood, Carry Water

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”~ Zen Proverb quotes

I wanted a trashy novel. See that book in the second photograph? Not trashy. And it has duct tape on the front of it. Hmph. DUCT TAPE. Had to balance that with a pink selection of small work goodies yesterday to fake my brain into believing there would be fun at the end of the tunnel. Yes, I wanted a beach read, a whodunnit, a tawdry tart gets her man...anything but to work on the files I took to work on and the business at hand.

I grabbbed a latte , a strata and opened up the Sunday New York Times, there was plenty of tawdry there, but I was not in a Georgia Zimbabwe mood. I tried to look at the Style section. Nope. Not happening. Off , I am way off today, I thought. Okay nothing for it, but to begin on the work I promised I would do, all that work I had packed into my location bag. I was already getting a late start. The day had felt slightly odd when I woke up way too early. Couldn't put my finger on the why. I was just not feeling the zen. I came to my alternative office anyway. Did not really want to be there, wanted anything else but that. I had thought of plenty of alternatives to the alternative, but here I was now and the very nice engineer from last Sunday was sitting at the table next to me working away. He'd already been friendly. Great smile, all American look. Western doncha know. That was nice. Sip sip. Do NOT get distracted, she says to herself. Let's just wade into the work. How bad can it be?

I pulled out the files and took the top one. Worked it through. Then the next. Then the next. Jotted down some notes. Clipped a few papers together. Picked up the last file before I knew it. Hm. Starting to feel better. I moved on to the sketchbooks and the journal. Paused. Marked a few pages more. The engineered smiled companionably. I read the first chapter in that ugly orange book. Definitely a guy book. Wait, hey...( as I read on) it is actually good. Might even be brilliant. Compliments another one I like called the Tipping Point that I read a few years ago. I had to make myself put down the ugly orange book with the tape ( which may become a favorite), and pick up the book I'd brought with me on punctuation. I have graduated to the second chapter in that one, the one on commas, having done the work with the dot. The engineer leisurely strolls over to the counter for more coffee and smiles on his way back. I now read that tricky comma chapter. Scintillating. Before I knew it I had completed every task in my bag. What? Yes, I looked in it and saw empty staring back. Huh? Tick tock wow. Done. That can't be right. But it was.

So I promptly smiled and repacked. Game over. Done. I sprinted over to the fiction and grabbed a pastel colored book about an heiress in Nice on the trail of a lost painting- villas and Dragonettas and romance in the South of France by a Sundance authoress. I grabbed the latest De Silva too. His lead character is the Jack Bauer of Israel. It says so right on the cover. That could be excting. I am zen again...and smiling.

Moral of my Sunday story? Chop wood, carry water. It may not be so glamorous, but sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done. Yes, it's Organizing Monday again. Pick 3 Most Important Tasks and simply do them. Small relentess steps. The road to "overnight success", or rebuilding, is full of small steps. Ones we wish we didn't have to do, have done a million times already, or would love to pay someone else to do for us when we can do that. But there's fun to be had there too...and sometimes a terrific view.

Now Brush is excited. That pink watercolor Moleskine in the first photograph is his reward. It's getting color tone poems this week. And island paintings will come from those. We have elegant handmade paper on the way. Brush is feeling very Nice-like now. Descriptions of the Grand Corniche, azure sea and pink villas can do that. Oh, I need island colors, but my heart, it needs a touch of romance, and it needed some zen discipline yesterday. So chop wood, carry water. Then reward yourself.

What, the engineer? Well, Texas seems to be a friendly state. Come on Brush we have drawing and painting to get to. Yes, you can drive the Dragonetta, let me get a scarf for my hair. Brush has a romantic side himself. Go on. Get busy. But don't forget the fun.


Kelly said...


Made to Stick is a great one. That's my idea of a trashy novel—should do work, rather read bright orange inspiration.

Chop wood, carry water. I agree, I believe in it, I force myself to do it, but oh, these dog days of summer do make it rough!

I need fall weather. :)



Janice C. Cartier said...

Me too. Love sweater weather. You will see it before I do.

I love that big orange book so far.

It's the dog days that make me want that getaway read...oh, okay, I like' em in the winter too. ;-)

ParisBreakfasts said...

thanks for the book title Kelly.
The name of the Western guy shall go un named.
Name yr 3 MTAs...
Choppy water and carry wood,,

Janice C. Cartier said...

PB-MTA's? Like which Metro Transit Authorities..LOL

Sorry, I thought the title could be read in the photo.
: o

(Thanks , I corrected that choppy water. )

Bill Kanapaux said...

More books should have duct tape on the cover. One of humankind's greatest inventions.

Are you going to do a Men and their Magazine series of paintings? I would imagine Nude at the Bookstore Reading about Watches would be a logical choice.

Engineer with Coffee and Smile would work too. Not sure about the nude part on that one though. Then again, it would probably be all the rage in New York.

Harmony said...

So that's what it takes to make my brush happy! Small RELENTLESS steps. "Chop wood carry water..." not that glamorous is it?
Watching the Olympics this past week has reminded me that all that glory is maybe 3 min or 30 min for them, the work is consistent, everyday effort. Chop wood...carry water. Thanks Janice.
(Now where the heck is my axe?)

Janice C. Cartier said...

Bill- You are becoming my favorite muse. LOL....That series will require much research and many, ahem , auditions, I am afraid... ah well, I am willing to suffer for my art. I think it would hit well in New York. "Nude at Starbucks." Hm... thinking about how many sports teams I have to choose from for models in Dallas...hehehe...hmm, figurative work....something I might have to explore.

Harmony- a small hatchet, used well, will work too. Ah so. :)

A Brush with Color said...

Chop wood, carry water...I love that. Words to live by, I suppose! Excellent post! I really enjoyed this...