Pipe Cleaners & Epiphanies

by FirehorseWest


I spent decades mis-understanding pipe cleaners. I thought they were born to occupy children. It was a shocking, tilt-your-head-back, moment to learn that they were actually meant to clean pipes. 

I’ve found similar humor in recently recognizing that self-help is mostly seeking of help for oneself from others. The more I read lessons from someone else—and the longer I sit silent amongst other help-seeking selves [I do not enjoy meditation]—the less I seem to know my-self. 

At 20, I navigated the entirety of the US with an atlas. Wherever I landed, I knew who and where I was–but not because I knew much about either. I fell into the liberating bucket of ‘traveler’. I was on a grand adventure. And if I knew much about where or why it would have spoiled the trip. 

Years later I took this picture through the rain-laden window of a Nantucket-bound ferry. I don’t venture as much as I did before I placed less stock in regular laundry. But that bright, gray day I listened to music and watched the little pockets of color vie for my attention before getting subdued by the northeastern rain. 

I laughed when the notion washed over me that this was—actually—watercolor. Those little plastic trays of paint were permission for children to create without the need for definition or border. They were meant to encourage formative minds to get messy—to let things run and to see what shapes are made. This is the essence of adventure and of creativity, both.