Friday, October 30, 2009

Strength, Weakness, Greatness

Awright, that’s it. I demand that the horoscope writer for The Record admit that s/he is totally stalking me. This is today’s: Remember when you used to draw? There’s something therapeutic and anciently human about putting a seen or imagined picture to paper. Scribble for fun. It will release your playful nature.

Now I suppose it is just coincidence that I have a drawing-related rant yesterday, and this is my horoscope today?!

I. Think. Not.

(Also, I apparently think the universe revolves around me and my blog, which is possibly just a hair on the arrogant side of me.)

Well, Mr(s) Smarty Pants Horoscope Writer…I was never much for drawing. The painful truth is, I really can’t draw.

So, uh, neener-neener?


Actually, the can’t-draw thing is one of those things that has always bothered me a bit. I mean, I am one of those creative-types. I play several instruments, I dye, I craft, I will take on fiddly knitting projects, I love color and scent and texture and have that artistic way of finding myself floored by something like…the glistening perfection of a single drop of dew on an unopened rosebud.

I can stand there and stare at something like that in a timeless place, just imprinting the perfections and flaws into my mind. I can call those images back to me. I can see, hear, taste, smell everything from that moment, including what it was that drew my eye to it in the first place.

But I cannot then draw that out on paper.

I was actually told in high school that I had better just give up because, well, I believe the exact words were something to the effect of, “In over twenty years of teaching, I have never encountered a student I couldn’t teach to draw simple shapes, until now.”

It…kind of stung. Sometimes that moment will come back to me (in vivid Technicolor) and, thirty years on, still make me blush. Everybody else in the class had what could be recognized as a three-dimensional box on their paper.

I had…lines that looked like a kindergartener’s attempt at drawing a box. Flat, out of proportion, utterly unlike the box I had been staring at while drawing it.

It was a shoebox – you know, a rectangle?

I didn’t even get that part right. My lines made an off-kilter square.


We humans tend to hold onto our hurts more tightly than we do our triumphs. That same year, I was in a creative writing class. My teacher submitted some of my work to various magazines and newspapers, and three of the pieces I wrote in her class were for-real published. I also produced a four hundred page novel (on a typewriter, because I didn’t have a computer with the ability/agility to handle word processing software).

And my teacher learned that she’d better put not only a minimum number of pages, but a maximum as well on her assignments.

Also, I was receiving all kinds of awards for my mad skilz on the piano. I was doing honors stuff, and passing the Certificate of Merit stuff, and performing all over the place in all kinds of venues for all kinds of reasons – most of them relating to having gotten a rating of “outstanding or better” during recitals.

I ran track and seldom lost. I played basketball and was MVP. I played football with the boys, and I think they were shocked to learn I was a {gasp!} girl.

That actually got to be very unfortunate, because when I started developing crushes on boys and junk like that, they were blithely unaware of the fact that I was, you know, date-able. Also, one of my crushes one time turned to me and said, in the tone of one who has just made a Great Discovery, “Wait, you’re a girl! What do you think I should say to Other Girl Who Was Not Good Enough For Him to make her go out with me?” I could have killed him. Which would have been unfair because I was so firmly entrenched in boy-like behavior that naturally, he never would have seen a sudden fit of actual female behavior coming from me.

The first time I wore makeup in high school, it practically made the evening news. Student long thought to be ‘one of the guys’ turns out to be a girl – film at eleven!

But I digress.

Through the years, I’ve been stunned to discover that I’m not the only person who does that. Sure, nobody likes a boaster and everybody knows somebody who can’t stop blowing their own horn every eight seconds… “I’m so great! I’m so knowledgeable! I’m going to stand here and pontificate, showing off my incredible skilz! Look at me! Listen to me! Admire my greatness!”

They’re really annoying, and nobody wants to be that person, and I think it leads us to downplay our talents and assume they aren’t as big a deal as the other guy’s talents.

After all, he’s the one with the new show in the gallery, right? She’s the big track star. Me? I just doodle around on the piano a bit now and then…

But at the same time, we are amazing. What a species we are! Each individual unique, with their own blend of interests, skills, talents, and dreams. We’re all similar in so many ways, and yet…not at all.

You can draw. He can paint. I can knit. She can do a continual whistle.

We are funny, we are passionate, we are playful.

We are sad, we are fragile, we are lacking.

Our strengths and weaknesses forge a uniqueness that cannot be replicated. Nobody else is you, and nobody else is me, and praise be for it. Flawed beings that we are, we need each other’s strengths to fill in our own weaknesses.

I can’t draw, but that doesn’t mean there is no fine art in the world. Others step in and provide what I lack, and I then do what they cannot and lo…the world is made a better place, a lovelier place, a place full of things that give us those moments of surprised delight.

Wow…I never would have been able to do that, never would have even THOUGHT to do that…

The world would arguably be a duller place if each of us could do everything anybody else could do.

Which is what I’m going to keep telling myself, as my little ones continue producing better drawings than I could ever hope to achieve, and occasionally provide the brutal truth to me in their usual innocent way…Whoa, mommy, is THAT supposed to be a snake? You really can’t draw too good, can you…


Steph B said...

Oh, my word...well, if Mr(s). Horoscope person is stalking you, you're freaking me out by once again being inside my head. How do you DO that? Rather than hi-jack your blog, I'll just say that you made some extremely fine points and I agree wholeheartedly. So why can't we just cut ourselves some slack? Sigh. Maybe someday.

Jeanne said...

Thank you so much for this post. I just emailed it to my beautiful, intelligent, talented, caring 18 year old daughter who, like the rest of us, misses her wonderful qualities by focusing on her perceived faults.

Hester from Atlanta said...

Well, after 50 years or so of trying, I can actually draw - but play the harp or center a pot on a pottery wheel - forget it! Best - Hester

Too bad Captain Adventure loves to draw with black Sharpies! on walls! I know when these things happen they are not funny, but the way you write them up is sooo funny.

Rena said...

We must be related. I can't draw a stick figure to save my life! And I too had a teacher in the seventh grade who "encouraged" me to give up art class and focus on choir. I spent YEARS trying to learn to draw because I heard that any one can draw with practice. Nope. Learning to draw for me is just as hard as learning trigonometry (which I never did and don't even know what it is). I am visual-arts challenged. This bothers me. I want to be an artist because writing isn't good enough. I'm good at lots of things, but they are all shadowed by my longing to draw pen and ink sketches of horses standing in a field.