Written on the walls

Our garage chalkboard overflows with wisdom

As a student at Mattie Lou Maxwell Elementary, I didn’t know anyone who had a chalkboard at home but if you had asked who wanted one, my hand would immediately have shot up. I loved the chalkboard in our classroom. Part of the allure was wanting to be a teacher, writing down principles, truisms and assignments for everyone to see. But an equally attractive draw was the elusive nature of chalk, that what was written down was likely to be gone in an instant, replaced by equally important and compelling ideas. As if knowledge was moving at lightning speed, “Please keep up dear ones!” or you’ll be left in the dust.

A few years back, it became fashionable to feature “chalkboard sayings” in the home and office. These quips were often inspirational in nature–“It’s a good day to have a good day” and “Make today so awesome yesterday gets jealous”–and occasionally I’d see one that would stick with me for some time. I fell in love with the practice and bought myself a magnetic board from IKEA, painting half of it with chalkboard paint to combine the inspirational with the practical. Originally, the board hung in a hallway– but it always felt cluttered and misplaced there. We’ve since relocated it to the garage, one of the first things I see when returning home. I used to change the sayings regularly but being clever takes energy. The current question on the board has been there for 3 years now and it still captures my attention:

Forget Rule Keeping… How about People Keeping?

Other items we’ve put on the board include:

  • graduation and wedding announcements
  • travel magnets
  • a picture of Lindsey at the foot of Gandhi’s statue in Geneva, Switzerland
  • a variety of political statements including a photo of me as Prez of the US [girlfriends at the ready to make decisions]
  • “I am still learning” Michelangelo magnet
  • a postcard of Martin Luther

There’s always a little edge to the board. Like the magnet with Princess Leia’s image on it declaring: “Well behaved women rarely defeat empires.” I often ask myself, “Is this what I want…to defeat an empire?” However, I certainly don’t want to be called ‘well-behaved’ [not a surprise to those who know me].

I imagine all these ideas and images could be tucked deep in my heart; they don’t need to be so publicly on display. But by getting them out of me and into the world (on a board) I have to decide if these are the kinds of principles, truisms and assignments I want to be about. And once they’re up, it becomes easier to wipe them away, making room for creative new ideas that build on that good foundation.