Friday, May 14, 2010

Wanting for a wall: something's off balance here

Whether learning to walk or riding a bicycle, it’s very typical to hear about the ears because that’s where the beautiful technique of balance does its job. The inner ear has tiny canals have tiny hairs that can detect even the slight change in the fluid that resides in those canals as we tip ourselves over.
But there’s another part of the body involved that might be overlooked: the eye. The eye sends some serious feedback to the brain, helping the ear and keeping us walking and running upright without face-planting into the ground. For this I am very thankful.
The eye does double duty and also works its magic in seeing straight lines. It knows to prefer things that are completely level, absolutely straight, and amazingly can detect when things are slightly less than perfect. They crave things like the horizon and other things that either parallel or perpendicular to it.
My eye, however, isn’t seeing a single thing when it comes to my family room wall.
At the time of this posting, it has been exactly 72 days since I first asked my husband to hang two pictures on our east facing wall. Freshly bare after a change in furniture, I thought it would be lovely to fill it with a simple piece of art and a beautiful collage of our children’s photographs instead of the beige canvas with a lonely stuffed walleye dangling off to one side.
Two pieces of art to hang all together, most likely three nails involved, 64 days of looking at nothing.
I admit I asked him out of apprehension and simple fear that I would make the slightest mistake over and over and my beautiful bare wall would be speckled with more erroneous nail holes than not. I am just not that confident a person when it comes to hanging a picture so balanced and even that the onlooker won’t cock his or her head to one side to have a more pleasing view.
I was raised as a bit of a picture perfectionist, my father hanging every frame with a trusty level or two. I know that to hang a picture the correct way takes time, patience, and tools. And quite frankly, I don’t like to do it.
So I give the job to my husband, who doesn’t like to do it for the same reason. But it’s his job, we both know, because he’s better at it than I am. My skills shine in the nagging department, like how I’ve been nagging him for 64 days to hang these two pictures. We are a talented duo, he and I.
Henny Youngman may have said that “the secret to a happy marriage remains a secret,” but I know there’s more to it than that. There’s got to be an ample amount of give and take. For example, I give him the pictures, he takes them and hangs them on the wall. Or more likely, he gives me flowers and I take the pictures that I had placed in front of the TV during his favorite show and put them off to the side of the room.
The French have their own marriage proverb, undoubtedly written by a person in a grumpy marriage. “A good husband should be deaf, a good wife should be blind.” This one would work well in our situation, if he couldn’t hear me talking about the pictures I couldn’t see if he hung or not, and we could be a dysfunctional happy and balanced couple.
But that’s not the kind of balance I’m looking for. I’m looking for the kind of balance that I can stand back from and say, “dear, go get the level. The picture that only took you 72 days to hang is 1/32 of an inch lower on the left side” and the words would ring right through his inner ears.

One final note: There are no accompanying photos to this post because I am anxiously awaiting until I can photograph the items actually hanging on the wall...

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