Painter and public television host, Bob Ross, never ceased to fascinate me. I used to watch his PBS show, The Joy of Painting, religiously. I think I secretly hoped that a miracle would float out of the television and cause me to acquire the artistic talent I never had. As I watched him create one landscape after another, I was continually amazed at his ability to paint a beautiful bush, fluffy cloud, or cluster of “happy little trees” in the blink of an eye. Bob Ross never seemed to be stressed. While sharing his artistic secrets with the soothing voice of a masseuse, he painted, created magic on the canvas, and repeatedly stated, “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.”
I thought of Bob Ross this week because I created a happy accident—and no, not on a canvas. The last time I checked, the angels hadn’t played their harps and a beautiful white light hadn’t surrounded me. As far as I knew, I still didn’t have any artistic talent. Truth be known, I created a happy accident in my pocket.
For years, I have followed a tradition every night after dinner. As a reward for living another day without ending up in jail, I reach high in the cupboard above my stove for the box of candy that is calling my name. Some days, my candy of choices is caramel nips. Other days, it is M&Ms. But on this day, I reached for the box of sugar babies, poured a few into my hand, and then placed them in the pocket of my shorts—away from the prying eyes of my dog, who also happens to love sugar. As I plopped myself down in the couch to relax after a long day, I popped one sugar baby into my mouth and chewed. My eyes closed. A delightful mix of sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil, and caramel color filled my mouth. Heaven. One by one, the sugar babies slowly disappeared out of my pocket. And then, I decided to go a little crazy and live like I’d never lived before.
I grabbed two sugar babies. Or so I thought. I chewed. My eyes flew open. I chewed some more. Suddenly I realized, I wasn’t chewing just sugar babies. I was chewing something else. Something salty. Crunchy. I dug in my pocket and pulled out all the candy. And there they were. Two forgotten corn nuts from earlier in the day when my daughter had shoved them in my pocket and ordered, “Keep these safe. I’ll be back to get them later.” With a sugar baby on one side of my mouth and a corn nut on the other, I slowly moved them together with my tongue and chewed. My eyes rolled back in my head. I smiled. I couldn’t believe my taste buds. It was a mouth-watering combination. There are no mistakes, just happy accidents. Sugar babies and corn nuts. Who knew?
It was no secret that Bob Ross possessed the kind of calm demeanor that most of us strive for in life. I suspect that he had simple needs. Painting and teaching made him happy and at peace with his existence on earth. In a world where sometimes tragedy overwhelms our news, I’d like to imagine Bob Ross creating a beautiful landscape while telling all of us to try to focus on the simple, joyous moments—like the unlikely marriage of a sweet candy and a salty nut on a hot summer night. Wherever he is, I’d like to think he’s smiling right now while whispering, “Ssh, it’s our little secret.”
“… If you can do this, you can do anything.”
By Vicky DeCoster, All Rights Reserved