The calm stranger

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Having had very little studio time over the previous two weeks, I was prepared for it to be a bit tough getting back in there this week.

But it was actually easy. This is for two reasons: I knew exactly what I would be doing and I knew why.

What a luxury it is when life feels that way.

I pulled out all the Commence canvases and worked on them all, getting two more of the backgrounds done.

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And then these two each just need minor adjustments/additions.

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Then today I was able to get a head start on next week’s goal, which is to get the wooden silhouettes glued on. Here they are in process.

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As I got everything lined up properly and worked out a system for the gluing, I kept thinking about this conversation I heard on the bus.

A woman got on the bus, sat down, and immediately started talking to a man she didn’t know who was sitting across from her. It was nothing too serious: she was talking about the weekend coming, about the weather…and then she started focusing on how she didn’t like change.

Over and over, for about ten minutes, as the bus full of commuters traveled down the hill, she asserted how much she wished things never had to change, that she really didn’t like change, and she wondered why things couldn’t just stay the same. The man she was talking to responded calmly, saying that change is hard, but also commenting that change is certain. She would then go quiet, but a minute later she would start up again and he would give the same reply. He never seemed annoyed. Then he and I both got off the bus.

As I walked the last few blocks home, I thought about what makes change so uncomfortable. Because a little bit of change can be great, but if there is change after change after change, it crosses a threshold and is just too much: we’re suddenly little worried creatures.

And though we can’t always get lucky enough to run into such a benevolent and helpful stranger on the bus, I think we can use routine tasks in a similar way, as a consistent, reassuring presence to draw from.

I was grateful to have that type of work to do this week, and took note for future transitions.

So this week, here’s to finding the structure that helps you get through the change. And here’s to finding (or being) that calm, patient stranger who makes a difference too!

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