Life’s Little Equations

My eldest is an amazing artist for a 7-year-old.  Honestly, I think she’s a pretty good artist for any age.  She draws better at the age of 7 than I do at 32-years-old.  Admittedly, I am not a very good artist.  Stick figures are practically a challenge for me.  Though my sweet daughters would tell you that I’m an excellent artist, I’ve accepted my lack of artistic abilities.  Unfortunately, my middle child has not come to accept that her drawings will not be as precise as her big sister’s work.

I happen to love my middle child’s drawings.  I think they are full of personality and improving each day, as do all things we practice at.  Sadly, she makes the mistake that many of us do by comparing ourselves to people who have had years of additional practice.

A friend of mine and I fall victim to this same detrimental thinking even in adulthood.  This blog is a perfect example.  My friend was encouraging me to start a blog since she thought I had good insight to share and that I wrote well.  My response to her was that there is nothing that I can say that someone hasn’t already said and, frankly, said better.  My natural instinct is to discredit all that I am because there are many out there who are more qualified.  How unfair is that to myself?

This same friend, who serves as one of my main cheerleaders, has recently decided to take up drawing and painting.  With no effort in years to draw or paint, she has already produced amazing pieces of art.  Every compliment I give her, she responds with, “Oh, please.  This is not good.  You should see this one artist’s work.”  She’s not trying to be modest.  She genuinely thinks her art is no big deal.  But it IS!  It’s fabulous!

Why do we do this to ourselves?

In my efforts to comfort my 5-year-old who was in tears this past weekend over her perceived lack of drawing abilities, I found myself pondering what I was saying to her.  I realized I should be listening to the words coming out of my mouth.  I was so frustrated that she didn’t understand how gifted she was and how comparing herself to someone who has had years of additional practice is irrational.

Wasn’t I just like my little one?  She wanted me to draw the pictures for her because she thought so little of her own drawings.  I didn’t want to put my fingers to the keyboard for the very same reason.  Someone can do it better.  But, can they?  Someone may always be a better artist, a better musician, a better writer, etc.  But will they put in it what only YOU can put into your work?  Your soul.  Your individual beautiful soul.

This all came to a huge AH-HA moment when I was reading to my middle child the book she brought home from her school library.  It was a delightful book called This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations.  I loved the darling drawings and great message, but boy did it hit home when I saw these two pages:

As long as we put our soul into something, what does it matter how fantastic or dull it is?  The irony is that my daughter rated this book 2 out of 3 stars.  I would have given it 10 stars, if the scale allowed.  Not everyone is going to appreciate every little thing that we do and create.  But as long as we keep practicing and trying and putting it out there, someone is bound to find joy in our work.  At the very least, if we put our soul in it, then we alone should find beauty in it.
We should also keep in mind that our soul does not have to be put into every one of these things.  I’m okay with my lack of artistic abilities, because I don’t enjoy drawing in the first place.  I have neither practiced nor put my soul into drawing for that very reason.  I enjoy literature very much so that is where I will put my soul.  I’ll also dabble in music and dance, as my heart delights in those things.
Our souls are beautiful. I say we practice sharing them whether it be through color, words, sound, or movement.  The more we practice, the better we will be at mastering something, or so this same book tells me.

The inside flaps of the book claim that this book was designed for ages 4-8.  I beg to differ.  I think this book’s message is for all ages.  I know this 32-year-old definitely needed the Color + Words + Soul = Uplifting Message.

Continue reading…
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