Do you get nervous in front of a white board? Maybe you’re at work giving a presentation or at home playing Pictionary. In either case you likely give an apologetic disclaimer that essentially says, “Sorry, I really suck at drawing.” I want to tell you something: You’re right. You do suck at drawing. Would you like to know why? Notice how closely your drawing skills resemble those of a 5-year-old child. Do you know what that means? At some point as a child you stopped drawing. And now, as an adult, placed in front of a white board, you’re simply continuing exactly where you left off as a kid. You suck at drawing because you stopped drawing.
What happened to you? At what point in your childhood did you decide that drawing wasn’t worth it? How did you come to that decision? What became so important that there was no longer room for wonder, dreaming and creating? When did waxy crayons and smelly markers no longer become awesome?
It probably started in college. Someone placed you on a conveyor belt that promised you all of the things you really wanted in life, and worse, they told you what you wanted in life. They told you to stop daydreaming and get to work. They told you to stay up all night in order to maintain your position. They told you that an unguarded moment or a single error would put you behind. They told you to grow up, and worse, they told you that grownups don’t draw. Grownups don’t daydream. Grownups don’t play. Grownups don’t take risks. Grownups don’t stand up for something. Instead, they told you that grownups stay busy. Grownups blend in. Grownups live to please other grownups or talk behind their backs. Grownups are tired.
At some point along the way you believed they were right. And now you’re standing in front of this white board apologizing.
You go home, and you see your child’s drawings hanging on the fridge. To you, they are magnificent. Why? What do you wish for them? To give up on their magnificence and grow up? Do you want them to have the life you live with your crushing mortgage and medications? Do you want them to give up on dreaming and creating something new? I hope not, because we really need them.
You know, there’s hope for you, too. Maybe you could close that laptop and pretend that nothing much really matters. Order dinner in. Send your spouse to the foot spa. Then, sit down with your kid. Spill all those colorful and crafty artistic tools across the table. Draw, for heaven’s sake, draw. Yes, I know it’s awful, but keep going. Feel for a moment. Let those feelings find you. Let them take control of your hands. Have fun. Become five years old again. What did you wish for your life back then? Wish it again. You can do this.
Photo (Flickr CC) by mckinney75402