Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seven Coats of Paint

       You apply the first coat of paint on the wall. You step back and wonder why you see no color.  Someone tells you, “ You have only applied the first coat.  Let it dry then apply the second coat and then you will see the color.”

         Indeed, the color of the paint shows up after the second coat and even shows up brighter with the third. Such is the case with painting.  The first coat serves as a primer to prepare the surface to receive the finishing paint application.  In fact the paint industry has a special painting product called the primer engineered to bind with the material underneath while preparing the surface to adhere better with the finishing paint.  It serves as filler and water-proofing agent.  In some cases it is used to seal the wall and aid in preventing mold.  The primer can be tinted to match as closely as possible to the finishing paint to reduce the number of layers of finishing paint necessary to achieve the desired painted surface.

       How does this story relate to life? It takes multiple experiences to truly understand a lesson. 

        The first time we watch a math lesson demonstrated we watch it like a movie, a succession of picture frames passing before our eyes from beginning to end. After the demonstration, we can at least say the name of the lesson, what it is meant to teach and where it is located on the shelf.  That’s the first coat of paint.

       We approach the instructor confessing that we did not get the lesson.  The instructor gives a small group lesson along with two or three others.  With a smaller group, we cannot hide and we participate with the handling of the materials as directed by the instructor. With our second coat of paint, we now know the steps involved although we cannot remember the sequence.

        With our small group we recall the steps and write them down in our notebook.  That’s the third coat of paint.

         We then take turns practicing while the small group watches. We learn by doing and we learn by watching. That’s the fourth coat. 

       Armed with a boost of self-confidence, we teach the lesson to a classmate or to the elementary students we teach.  We learn more when we teach. That’s the fifth coat.

        We practice six more times for mastery and then ask the instructor to check us up. That’s the sixth coat.

      We look for extensions and applications in daily life, browse  through math  books for exercises and review technological tools available through the internet. That’s the seventh coat of paint. Learning with several layers of reinforcements and engagements is strong and will never be forgotten.

         Repeated exposure before buying seems to be the rule, this is the principle behind the steady stream of advertisements on TV, radio and magazines.

       Adopting a  point of view foreign to us is not instantaneous.  Modeling,  living the principles we are advocating goes a long way towards forwarding our argument than mere words.  Sometimes a novel, a movie, a story, a news item clicks a point  within us that has been heard but not listened to.  This works because when we distance ourselves  from some idea we could not agree, we see it in a different perspective. During our unguarded moment, we do not focus on ourselves and our opposition, rather, we allow ourselves to be open and listen with our heart.

        The next time we are confronted with some difficulties in life, we can relax and say, “That’s my first coat of paint.  Let me go through it and when the next one comes, I will be a little prepared because that will be my second coat of paint.”  We keep repeating to ourselves the mantra that ‘we only have difficulties in things that we still have not learned how to deal with.’ 

        We apply the primer  of preparedness for understanding only comes to a prepared mind. 

        We apply the first coat of humility with the plea to the teacher, “Teach me, I am a child and I know that I know not.”  One cannot teach a person who claims he/she already knows.

         We apply the second coat of industry for God helps those who help themselves.

         We apply the third coat of selflessness in sharing the little that we know for we live not for ourselves alone but for our fellow human beings.

         We apply the fourth coat of patience for the wheel of God grinds slow but sure.  In due time and in due season, our toil will bring fruits.

         We apply the fifth coat of faith knowing that what we sow we reap. We study, we learn.  We help, others will help us.  We give, we receive God’s bounty.

         We apply the sixth coat of a sense of purpose and ask ourselves “For what purpose?” Our purpose leads to a sense of determination and determination leads to right action in achieving our goal.

         We apply the seventh coat of oneness. We are all one. We are one with the earth and one with all creation. We brighten the corner where we are and make the world a little brighter.

         So fellow travelers, put on your cap and overalls.  Grab a bucket of paint and brush.  There is a lot of painting to do.  Happy painting.

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