It’s a common trope among writers that no writing effort is truly wasted. In darker moods, I sometimes wonder how true this is. Sure, we learn from our mistakes. We learn from what works as well as what doesn’t. And there is likely something in even those abandoned pieces that can be salvaged for something else, right?
But now, take these painted slabs of plywood. My husband originally got them to make a work bench, I think. Instead, they sat out in the sun and rain for a few years before we finally propped them under the eaves of the garage (as pictured). When Strombeek, our cat, succumbed to cancer of the mammary glands, we buried her next to the Cherimoya tree, which is across from the boards. And I didn’t want the ugly, weather-worn plywood facing her grave. While I know that she can’t technically “see” it (and cats don’t care about aesthetics anyway) it was important to me at the time to make the boards bright and cheery. I remembered the underside of an umbrella I once had with a clear sky underneath and how happy it had made me. And when/if my husband did finally make his table, there would be bright blue scattered with fluffy clouds either on top or on the underside—however he wanted to do it.
So I painted the boards with a couple coats of exterior Miami Dolphin blue. (It was Superbowl season.) Then I painted on the clouds, using some glow-in-the-dark paint in the hopes that a glow would linger after twilight even though rationally I knew even at the time that the sun never directly hits the boards. Then I covered over it in a clear layer (to protect the glow-in-the-dark paint that probably wasn’t even going to work).
BUT now it seems that we’re going to use the plywood instead to form the floor in my backyard office. While I’m super excited about the office itself, the boards will in no way be visible since the flooring will go over them. Sure, we could buy new plywood for the flooring, but that seems more tangibly wasteful.
I suppose one could argue that this painting work is not wasted since I got to enjoy the cheery boards for a good ten months or so. It also provided me a productive focus for my grief. I also learned, I guess, that hope is not a good stand-in for the direct rays of the sun. But still, it’s disappointing that we won’t be using the boards in a way that will leave the work at least somewhat visible. And so it often seems with writing.