Growing up, my parents were really good at sharing tips and advice.
One memorable piece of advice was: “Get that spaghetti out from between your toes.”
But, by far, the most common was: “Turn off the lights!”
Given how often I heard this pearl of insight, I was convinced it was one of their favorite pieces of wisdom to impart on their teenage son. As it turns out, it was exceptional advice. On a daily basis.
Fast forward 20 years and now that I’m responsible for the household bills, listening to their wisdom is paying off.
At least three times a week I leave my home office, gaze across the basement, and notice a light under the door of my wife’s art studio.
Of course, I assume she’s in there working away. But then I notice a distinct lack of music and I wander over. Twisting the handle and gently cracking the door, I peek in. Nothing. No one.
… then I notice a distinct lack of music and I wander over. Twisting the handle and gently cracking the door, I peek in. Nothing. No one.
The art studio is well lit, but empty… again. And again. And again.
At least her paintings never need to fear darkness.
Forget my kids, my parents’ pearls of wisdom are being imparted on my artist wife. Who, I must add, shouldn’t need to hear them.
Each time I grumble to myself, turn around, flip the switch, head upstairs, and remind her to turn off the light when she’s done painting.
Without fail, I hear, “Oops, I forgot I turned them on.”
How do you forget the studio light is still on? It’s bright, it’s lit, and you have to walk past the switch when you leave the room. Oh, and must I point out the room would be dark without it?
But clearly artists are more like teenagers than any of us knew.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned being married to an artist, it’s that artists get uber-focused on whatever they’re working on. So focused, in fact, that every other detail — tidy spaces, paint spots on the kitchen table, or a skyrocketing electricity bill — is completely tuned out.
It’s part of the process.
And it’s very much like a teenager who becomes so consumed by their own lives — what Jenny said at school, why life’s unfair, and why their parents nag them about the lights — that they completely tune out everything else.
At least I haven’t had to remind her to keep that spaghetti from between her toes.