When I’m feeling down, like I want to do exactly nothing with absolutely no-one, I have a few go-to moves. The first is to embark upon an epic odyssey of self-pity where I mourn my present situation, my future prospects and my past decisions. Once that’s out of the way—usually signified by the completion of a nap—I have a buffet of options to pig out on. These include, but are not limited to:
– Watching the latest episode of Critical Role.
– Reading an old, favourite fiction book—Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, something light.
– Trawling my Reddit saves.
– Reading the Imperica newsletter.
– Stretching, yoga-style, and rolling out tense muscles.
The buffet of options also include the watching of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting—most episodes of which can be found on YouTube. For the unfamiliar, Bob Ross was a much-loved painter in the eighties and nineties. In his shows, he paints landscapes and talks through what he is doing. It’s remarkable, I assure you.
First, because Bob Ross is Bob Ross. Watching him “beat the devil out of it” makes me chuckle every single time. I could listen to him say “pthalo blue”, talk about giving trees friends and making happy mistakes for eternity.
Second, it’s an emotional rollercoaster. He’ll chuck some paint on the canvas, creating a sky or a lake effortlessly, drop a mountain or a barn in, and then precede to ruin it. That’s what it feels like anyway. If you didn’t know, Bob Ross loves trees. He’ll say that, and then just park a big dark line right down the middle of the beautiful horizon that has gently parted the waters of your heart. “No, Bob! What have you done?!” It always turns out that what he has done is make the painting better.
Third, joy. It’s a word that is in the title of the show itself, and it’s a word that is embodied by Bob and how he paints. He creates with a radiant joy—“radiant” because the viewer him- or herself can bathe in it. If you read any of the comments on any of the episodes on YouTube, this is evident. The overwhelming majority say things like, “The world didn’t deserve a man like Bob Ross” or “Without Bob Ross I wouldn’t have made it through period X in my life.” This isn’t a coinkidink. Bob Ross means a lot to a lot of people.
Which is why whenever Bob Ross helps me climb out of a spiralling bout of melancholy I always end up thinking, “I wish I could write like Bob Ross.” I wish I could bring the same sense of joy, fun and ease to my own work. I wish I could undertake the process and view the outcome with such wholesome goodness. Further, I wish more people would do what they do like Bob Ross. Without pretentiousness. Without falsity. Without ulterior or base motive. With love. With joy. For others.