Thursday, September 29, 2011
Yesterday my husband and I were sitting outside watching our two little ones splash in a large puddle in our driveway. Splash enthusiastically. Then run a lap around the car, and splash again. And then lie down in the puddle. Another lap. More splashing. They were having the time of their life. And there is probably another post somewhere in here about reasons why it's good my girls have both my husband and I as parents, because without him I probably wouldn't be relaxed enough to watch this drenched, messy, chaotic, and ecstatically happy event. Knowing he would handle the stripping off of wet shoes and clothing and the ensuing bathtime (involving even more splashing) I could sit back and enjoy watching my girls run and splash with abandon.
At some point, the splashing began to wane, most likely because there wasn't much water left in the puddle, and they each began to drift into other activities. The youngest snagged the tricycle, and my older daughter discovered some wet sidewalk chalk left out from a playdate earlier in the week. My husband and I chatted idly as we kept an eye on these more leisurely activities, when the oldest girl came running over and sweetly presented us with a gift.
"Here Daddy," she announced, handing him a leaf. A soggy leaf off the ground that she had smeared with wet sidewalk chalk. The leaf was brown and the chalk was a vibrant pink, and the effect was stunning. I took it rather abruptly from his hand to inspect it. The texture of the wet chalk streaked on the brown, veiny surface was gorgeous.
"May I have one?" I asked.
"Sure Mommy," she agreed and ran full tilt back to her studio, i.e. the curb of our driveway. She undertook her task with great concentration and seriousness and came running back shortly with another leaf, this one streaked with yellow and orange and pink.
I took it and exclaimed with genuine appreciation over its beauty, and she beamed and wiggled with delight. Within minutes, she had developed a "technique," looking carefully for just the right kind of leaf and discussing with herself what colors and how to do it. She brought us dead leaves, and green leaves, and bits of flowers from weeds growing under the bushes, and rocks, all of which she carefully and freely chalked. And they were all just so pretty and unexpected.
I was floored with the effortlessness of her ability to create such beauty out of things she found around her -- some dead soggy leaves on the driveway and nearly forgotten sidewalk chalk. She made art.
And oh, how I marveled at her unconscious confidence, the complete lack of an inner critic, simply a desire to create something. If only we could all create with such abandon and freedom and sureness. Think of the beauty in this world if we all gave our creativity so lavishly.
This week, silence that inner critic. Pretend you are three years old again and see the world as only full of permission and possibility. Find something around you (a leaf) and use any tool at hand (chalk) and create. Just create and bring a little extra breath of beauty into this life. Be effortless.