Matt Pearl

My wife has been painting our kitchen over the past several days. The process has been a lengthy one, really: the paint that was on the walls was a deep red, dark and hard-to-cover, so primer went on in a couple of coats before the new color hit earlier this week.

Now for those of you who have painted, you know well what I am about to say: it’s not bad work out in the open, when your roller can cover efficiently and quickly. It’s getting around the trim and up against the woodwork that can drive you to your knees.

And some days, folks, life is just one trim painting job after the next.

You put the edger tool up against that woodwork, hit it with your brush, and it’s not too bad. But those crazy bends and curves in the molding, those tight areas between cabinets and countertops—those will make you wish you’d left your walls the color they were.

On paper, life seems manageable. Days, months, even years of work these days, be around the house these days, head to church here, holiday visits there. It seems manageable with a calendar in front of you.

But then the other stuff happens.

You have to run to town to buy clothing for the kids. An appliance breaks. Somebody is sick. An event gets moved. You know—the other stuff.

And so life begins to resemble painting around that crown molding: you take things slow, try to be thorough, but after enough pressure you just go for it. You slop paint here and there, and then you try to chase down your mistakes with a wet rag to clean up.

It doesn’t matter that you took an hour or two to tape off that woodwork. That paint still finds ways to get through. All those extra touches that make your home look nice end up being an absolute pain in the rear to paint around.

So you go outside to take a break from it and mow the lawn, but all you can notice are those nice little trees and plants you used to landscape and beautify your home—so you take pains to mow as closely as you can to this bush or that flowerbed, all the time recognizing how much easier your yard would be to cut if it consisted only of open grass.

Such is life. We try to keep everything nice and neat, but at some point we are all bound to realize that we possibly overdid it, that we have filled our lives with so much clutter to make our existence look good on Facebook, so the world will see how happy we are.

Folks, remember: you plant it, you mow around it.

You put those appearances out, and you’ll find yourselves trimming around them and maintaining them for years to come.

Make no mistake about it: I like to put my best foot forward. But every year of my life that passes, I realize I have less need to impress other people. You like my yard? Great. You think it could use another tree or two, or another bed of these flowers? Fine. You come plant and mow around them. I’m at my limit already.

Your grandparents very likely had pretty simple yards to keep, because they were mowing them without zero-turns and precision string trimmers. They also worked hard at work, and keeping a lawn that looks commercially landscaped likely wasn’t on their agenda.

If you want to paint some aspect of yourself a new color, to redefine your look or your career or your health, I say go for it. Just remember that it’s not going to be easy to cover all of your previous flaws. Think a bush would look good planted out front by the bird feeder? Plant it, but don’t forget that it’s just one more thing you’ll have to mow around forever.

Matt Pearl owns and operates newspapers in King City, Albany and Grant City.