Stains. What are they good for?

I can’t think of any positive connotation for stain, can you? The word implies degradation, even ruination. Yet I hunt for these spoilers of the pristine. What’s the attraction?

For starters, I can’t add to perfection. If everything was unmarred, unsullied, untainted, unworn it would be like finding myself in a giant art studio with a huge canvas and no paint. There would be nothing to do. Boring!

So as the lowly maggot is to processing waste, I am to soiled pavement, an agent of transformation. Okay, not quite. My contributions are ephemeral and symbolic rather than transformative and pragmatically useful. Nevertheless, as I pass by the same stains week after week, I find that having spent time turning them into little characters I look forward to seeing them again. The stains become like neighbors, friendly ones I wave at rather than blemishes upon some vast field of unbroken conformity. The familiarity makes me feel I’m really here. Their specificity means I could be no where else.

To deeply notice a thing is to change your perception of it. To interact with it is to become intimate. To collaborate with it is to create a bond. That is why art is so transformative. It is like friendship but with a process rather than a person.

I can’t make the world a less blemished place but I can make the stains more fun.

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