There was nothing I enjoyed less, nothing I couldn’t so easily find reasons to put off or avoid. And of all the painting chores in the world, is there anything more tedious than…
But during the Lair’s first paint job in 2015 I noticed to my surprise that I was kind of having fun. I even found myself doing things I had actually sworn off ever doing again, like buying and using cutting brushes so the trim would look good. Seriously, that incident had me peering into a mirror and demanding, “Who are you and what have you done with me?”
And this morning found me using up the last of that gallon I bought for the wellhouse’s first coat to slap a fresh coat on … porch railings. By any objective standard there’s nothing worse than porch railings and it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Yet there I was, freshening up the paint on cabin frills.
Hindsight can be a harsh judge. I spent my whole life, juvenile and adult, doing what other people said they wanted or what I thought other people wanted. I was frequently wrong about that last thing and only managed to make matters worse, ever more frustrated and confused, over and over for decades. I never understood other people at all because – in the gradual clarity of hindsight – I regarded other people as situations to be handled. It took 15 years alone in the desert finally doing what I wanted to do with myself to realize the truth: A good deal of my serial failures to fit in with and please the people around me was that I … really never gave much of a damn about most of them at all.
Maybe that’s a damning judgement of me as a person, I’m not qualified to say. I’ve often mused that I may have missed outright sociopathy by not very much. But I told myself that I did try. It just seemed as if my relationships invariably boiled down to what I was supposed to be doing for them. And in fairness to me, I was repaid in insincere promises with monotonous regularity. I did other peoples’ work for other peoples’ purposes, and I was so invested in whatever ‘being a good person’ was supposed to look like that I had a hard time admitting that I hated every second of it. No surprise, in hindsight, that I often did a rather poor job.
The Secret Lair was something completely different, completely unique in my experience. It started in concept as a knock-together shack built from salvage, a quick and dirty place to crash out of the weather. I needed something better than a small and slowly dissolving RV but didn’t have the talent, experience or resources to do a proper job of building a real cabin, or so I told myself at first. But the project gradually became ever more elaborate as it simultaneously became the first labor of love in my whole life to date. I only gradually realized what I was really doing: At last building a thing that was just for me. And for the first time, I began to really care about it.
Not only that, I liked working on it. And I still do.