you can learn a lot from watching kids play. at around three or four, they exhibit a level of fearlessness that is enviable. not the kind of kamikaze courage that leads certain kids to climb up bookcases or hurtle themselves from high ledges—that's another kind of craziness entirely, and highly dependent upon a child's unique personality.
i'm referring to the phase when they're past the stage of impulsive toddlerhood, but haven't quite reached the point where peer pressure creeps in and stifles individual thought and action.
my son painted this picture during that magical time. on a saturday afternoon, we decided it would be worth the production (and potential mess) to let him paint some pictures. the easel was set up, the brushes and sponges laid out, and each color poured neatly into its own little cup.
he started out with a few brush strokes. he'd stop and admire each one, and move onto a different color. then he really got into it. he threw the brushes on the floor and tried the sponge. dab, dab, dab. admiration. next it was the free-for-all. he took his hand, dipped it deep into the green paint, wiggled his fingers around a bit to feel the coolness and the texture. then he looked up at me and smiled.
i thought all hell was going to break loose as i pictured green paint splattering all over the bleeker beige walls and shiny hardwood floor....but no. it was the opposite. he put the paint to the paper. first the whole hand. and then his fingers. deliberately he tapped his fingers on the surface. next another color. dip-tap. dip-tap.
the painting was beautiful. when i asked him what it was, he told me a story about "categoria"—a place where there were beautiful mountains and snow and water. i remembered telling him a few months back about how i worked for a company in calgary, where there are mountains and snow...perhaps, that was the reference point. guess i'll never know for sure.
but watching him made me wish i could be more like that. he was completely free. uninhibited. he was inspired by a story. he was excited by the tools at his disposal. no worry about what to paint. no worry about what i would say. no worry about brushes, spills, rules. he just painted.
as we get older, doubt creeps in. whether in work or life, we stifle our thoughts. forgo dreams. long for the time to indulge, but never make it a priority. we're not fearless. we're fearful. but do we ever ask ourselves why? what do we have to lose?
so you try a new recipe and your souffle falls. so you try to water ski and you can't get up. so you go for the promotion and get passed up. so you lose 5 pounds and gain 1 back. guess what? tomorrow's another day.
find your inspiration. paint your "categoria." make your mark. because living in fear or doubt or boredom or apathy is not living.