On Friday, I talked about my mother’s willingness to plant baby trees even though she doubted she would ever enjoy the results. Growing trees takes lots of work over many years. You plant your seedling, water it and feed it. You wrap it to protect it from deer or cold weather. As the tree grows, you prune it, spray it to keep off bugs and disease, and do your best to help it become a large, shapely tree. But there is no guarantee that your work will pay off, that the tree will thrive or even survive. It takes an act of faith to start that process, to dig the hole where that tree is going to go, and more faith to follow through and give that tree all the care that it needs over the years that follow.
Plenty of my creative projects require action now with no guarantee that the product with be worth the effort, or that there will be an end product at all. Whenever I sit down to make a drawing, I have to set aside all my expectations of what I am going to do now, and all my hopes of what I may be able to do later. There is only this drawing, right now. And most of the time, this drawing is pretty bad.
There are no guarantees. There is no net to catch me if I fall. Today’s drawing may be good, or I may hate it. No matter how much drawing I do, I may never be able to draw like the artists I so admire — Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli. There is only one guarantee: if I don’t try to draw today, I will most certainly never draw like a master.
While on retreat, one of my writing friends came across a great quote buried in the notes for her novel.
Let go of the idea that the path will lead you to your goal. The truth is that with each step we take, we arrive. — Paulo Coelho
While this most definitely applies to writing, it also rings true for me and my desire to draw. I need to stop worrying about my goal, and focus on the step I am taking today. Today I draw. Today, I have arrived.
Do you have creative interests that require faith and courage to follow through? What path are you on?