“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~Walt Disney
So, I’ve decided to dip my toe (and a paintbrush) in the water and explore some new interests. I seem to be craving more self-expression, and while my main mediums have been writing and photography, I’m venturing out into new areas like painting, a different kind of creative writing that I’ve always wanted to try, and singing.
It may not seem like that big of a deal, to pick up a paintbrush and play around with water colors, explore new ways of using words or sing karaoke and sing along to a well-known song, “Pressure,” by Freddie Mercury and David Bowie (quite appropriate actually), but these are big steps for me.
I never thought of myself as a shy person because I’ve always been pretty outgoing but when it comes to performing in front of people (as opposed to singing in the car or the shower), sitting in front of a blank canvas and conjuring up new ways to describe things more playfully, I realized that I’ve got some major league stage fright.
Once I decided to take the microphone, for example, it took everything I had to contain the shakes, but it was also exhilarating to belt out the lyrics (while trying by best to carry a tune). It was hard to juggle all the different aspects of the experience like follow the words on the prompter, sing along with other friends, hold the microphone at the right distance, find the right key and also manage the horror of hearing my own voice amplified – eeeek!!!!!
During a water coloring class, for example, it was amazing to feel how stressed I became by simply choosing a color from the color palette, let alone deciding what kind of stroke to make on the paper. I stayed with it though, and after awhile, I began to relax and just allow inspiration to come, and little by little, I was able to let go of the fear and start to create without caring too much about what the result was.
Here too, it was hard to juggle all the different aspects, choosing the paint, being afraid of making a mess, just simply going for it, and then allowing for something to appear on the page without too much judgement. During the process, I allowed myself to listen closely to the instructions and just give it a try. I learned a lot about myself through the process of simply trying.
The creative writing assignments were somewhat easier since “performance” wasn’t required. The process, however, was just as enlightening. As I followed the steps, creating a list of words from chosen category, and going to an area nearby and writing every detail I could about the setting, I observed my thoughts and feelings. My inner critic was quick to jump in and make my mind go blank and tell me that my vocabulary was of that of a five-year-old, but I pushed on and allowed for the possibility for something else and slowly the gates opened and new ideas started streaming in drip by drip.
It’s funny how I expect myself to be an expert in something that I have never tried before. It’s amazing what kind of standard we hold ourselves up to and how little we allow ourselves to try new things and suck at it, and just do something for the fun of it, and to allow ourselves to learn.
What I learned is that when I let go of striving for “perfection,” and stop listening to the voices that try to stop me, even for just a short while, something new is able to surface organically. I may not be Picasso, Freddie Mercury or Earest Hemmingway, but what I created came from within. I was willing to dare and try something new, and that’s something worthwhile in and of itself. And now I will close with a cliche: Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Silky, prickly, wavy, glossy, glistening
Airy, frothy, fuzzy, feathery, patchy
Seamless, smooth, reflective, transparent
Rough, dense, uneven, hazy