On a favorite walking path the other day, I stepped over a bright pink skull and crossbones, carefully drawn in sidewalk chalk.
Then several yards later, the word “Arrg!”, and a few yards beyond that, “Shiver me timbers!” It went like that for the next quarter mile or so—pictures of hook-handed pirates, a jolly roger flag or two, plenty more “Arrgs!” and even an admonition to “Watch yer backs Ye Scoundrels and Scalawags!”
My walks are always enjoyable—one of my favorite parts of the day. But this day’s walk was even better. I kept walking, buoyed by the joy of discovery—curious and excited to see what came next.
And when I reached the end of this piratical path, I was greeted with the best of the best: the drawing of the pirate ship, nestled under a huge rainbow.
I laughed aloud. That drawing totally made my day. And it’s been a boost every day since, when I think back on that whole walking adventure that day. Leave it to the openness and fearlessness and innocence and wonder of children to come up with something so perfect.
Which immediately reminded me: we were all artists as kids. We made stuff all the time, whether drawings in sidewalk chalk, or snowmen, or secret forts in the woods—and we created stories about all of them. We used our imaginations and our hands to create amazing things, for the pure joy of it.
When did we give that up? At what point in our lives did we realize (or worse, were we told) that we weren’t artists: that artists were special people with talent, anointed by God or the Muses or whatever higher power with a gift that we mere mortals could not claim? That art became “serious” instead of something we do for the simple joy of creating?
And I’m not just talking about drawing or painting. This applies to other art forms also: writing or dancing or sculpture or oratory or joke-telling or singing, or treehouse-making or shrub-trimming or care-giving or sweeping or auto maintenance—whatever we do with our full heart, in service to an inspired emotion, and with the desire to enrich the lives of others.
Make Your Art and Make Someone’s Day
Make your art for the joy it brings you. And then put it out into the world. You never know who might see it or hear it or feel it or experience it-and be moved, inspired, or changed by it.
The act of making and sharing your art sets off a ripple effect—your art can inspire someone else to create, whose art inspires someone else… and so on, and so on…
And all that ripple effect takes to get started is…
Just One Thing
As my friend Ellen Watkins would say, “Do Just One Thing.” So, inspired by her 52-in-52, and the way she approached rediscovering her own art—one small step at a time—today’s task for you is this:
Carve out five minutes (just five) to create something of your art.
Whatever sort of creation has inspired you in the past (or a new one you’ve always wanted to try), set aside this bit of time in your busy life to make art today.
We’re all busy. We all have responsibilities. But we can find five minutes to nurture that creative child in each of us that was buried long ago.
And it doesn’t matter if we don’t have the perfect tools—we have enough. The tools are just an excuse the Resistance uses to keep us from making our art. We can write a poem or a speech on the back of an envelope, draw something on a napkin or the back of a business card, take a photo or record a snippet of song on our smartphone.
We have all that we need to start making art today.
If you’d like some additional resources and encouragement to help you make your art (and be your own hero, for all artists are heroes), be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box in the sidebar to your right. You’ll get your own copy of the Be Your Own Hero manifesto, regular updates from the blog, and other subscriber-only tools and goodies.