This. This made me weep yesterday. From Clear Seeing Place by Brian Rutenberg:
"Some of my brushes are thirty-five years old; however, when I buy a new one, I immediately snap it in half...A precious tool makes precious marks. A broken brush is no longer a magic wand or a conductor's baton but a blunt, compact stub that puts my gigantic hand close to the battlefield. Painting is messy. My tools are clumsy. I disrespect my materials out of respect for my viewer."
And then there is a photo of broken brushes.
Why did this make my cry? Something about the visual. Intentionally breaking something to make it less precious, more blunt. Argh. I love this. And yet I fear it. Because this is what life does to us as humans - breaks us and puts us closer to the battlefield. And when it first happens, it is so hard. And then, after we are no longer precious, we are somehow more beautiful, more vibrant, more gritty and more real.
My sister told me long ago - "Life is Messy." I've wrestled with the thought, sometimes embracing it, other times trying to tidy the world around me and all the people in it. But during the moment I read the passage from Rutenberg's book, I really, really got it.
I recently bought some used paintbrushes at an art flea market. And, with the exception of intact handles, they are as Rutenberg described - blunt stubs. My hand grabs them each day in the studio, preferring their rough and unpredictable textures to the smooth evenness of new brushes. I prefer a messy battlefield on the canvas. I don't yet prefer this in my daily life, but thanks to this exquisite bit of prose, I see a metaphor for finding the beauty in the mess and in the purifying fire of the process.
Maybe, just maybe, I will break something on purpose today.