Archive for August, 2011

Several times a day I enter or walk through my master bathroom in my house.  It’s a pleasant room, with pale lavender walls, a Barbara Pappendick signed print of a woman in her bathing suit (not a Sports Illustrated model), reading while relaxing at the Jersey Shore, a Monet Boats at Argenteuil print (not signed) from my college days, the not-too-ornate white cabinetry, a Jacuzzi tub, and a very comfortable and functional shower.  There is a lot of tile in the bathroom – of various colors and sizes – mostly hues of brown and tan – earth tones – very neutral.  I’ve moved far too many times in my life, such that I can’t decorate with anything too provocative – especially if it’s permanent or costly to change.  I consider tile to be one of these more permanent items.

It was less than a year that we’d been in our house when we started noticing cracks on the floor tiles.  These are large 16 inch Italian-kilned square tiles, and the separations that started out as quite mediocre fissures, gradually blossomed into bellowing crevices that would not be ignored.  Since the house was still under its one year warranty, we contacted the builder who blamed it on the tile guy, though both agreed to quick repairs.  We had spare tiles in our attic and the replacement went smoothly.  And then it got cold and we noticed our heated tile floor was no longer getting warm – it fact, it was REALLY cold since our bathroom is over the garage.  We again called the builder, who called the floor heater fellow, who blamed it on the tile guy.  Not to worry, as he could remove the few tiles he needed in order to repair the break in the floor heater circuit, and we still had some spare tiles in the attic.  Just not enough.  Thus began our saga with the tile store.  The tile was no longer in production, plus you really need to get the same dye lot as what’s already on the floor, or it won’t exactly match.  We tried several other tile stores, plus the internet, with no luck, and eventually found some left over tiles by the same name, that would have to do.  There’s just one problem – they don’t exactly match all the other tiles in the floor.  Thus begins my mismatched-tile metaphor of life.

I used to find, as I passed through this pleasant room, despite the lavender rugs I placed about, that my eyes were drawn to the nonmatching neutral toned tiles scattered throughout the floor.  I would register a mild annoyance at this incongruity and go on about my various missions in life. But one day I was struck by the irony of my behavior.  Here I had a beautiful, pleasant and darn-near perfect space, yet I kept focusing on the flaws.  Shouldn’t I spend more time noticing the things that I liked, that made me feel good and warm at the memory, than allowing my eyes to be drawn to the small little bit that annoyed me?  Isn’t this just like life?  We usually have so much good around us, so much to be grateful for, yet we often obsess about the teensy parts we don’t like.  (We can make them big or we can relegate them to “teensy”; it’s up to us.)  What if we trained ourselves to focus on the NICE parts of our “space” so that every time we pass through that place, wherever it is, we see the beloved Monet, or the special perfume that reminds us of a loved one, the crystal flower that stirs a warm memory, or the print that matches a gift given to an old friend that always makes me smile. 

So here’s to the mismatched tiles in life.  May they help us focus on the many beautiful gifts by which we are indeed surrounded.  May we train ourselves to let them redirect us to the warm, loving and balanced space in which we prefer to abide. 

Thank you, mismatched tiles.  Thank you.


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