Sunday, August 12, 2012

Do It Anyway!

So, you're a storyteller. Or a poet. Or you like to paint. Or tickle the ivories. 

"Well, no," you say, "I just dabble." I'm not really good enough to call myself a writer/artist/potter/dancer/tuba player. I just amuse myself." 

There's a creative spark--perhaps in everyone--that wants to burn right through our hard-working, bill-paying, duty-bound exteriors. A spark that causes us to lay aside the piece for our piano lesson and play a song we just made up. Or to look up from a spread sheet and think about a character in a story we'd like to write, if we ever get the time.

But maybe you don't play or write or sing or dance or cook brilliantly. Maybe you're kind of mediocre. Like me.

There are two ways to look at it.

One, you might be mediocre on your way to being brilliant. In that case, you should keep doing it so you can grow your talent, develop your style, get a little better each day.

Or two, maybe you will never amount to much as an accordion player, seamstress, sculptor, or juggler of flaming batons. You're not gonna be the next American Idol or a guest concert pianist with the Boston Symphony. Your painting may never hang in the Louvre.  Your song may never top the Billboard charts.

In that case, you should keep doing it anyway, as long as you enjoy it, or it helps you relax, or it annoys certain people you'd like to annoy!

I don't play the piano that well, but doodling on the keyboard is a great way to untangle my thoughts when I'm writing. We don't have to be good at everything. Sometimes it's okay to just have fun. Really! 

Go ahead and slop some paint on a canvas. So what if you're forty-two and your mom is still asking, "What is it?" You can hang your masterpiece on your own refrigerator. Play that song one-handed on the keyboard. If Grandpa asks you to stop, threaten to put him in a home. (Just kidding, Gramps.)

Knit that lop-sided baby blanket. Spread your craft supplies all over the floor. Play those three chords on the guitar. Make some noise. Make a mess. Make a fool of yourself, dancing along with So You Think You Can Dance. Take a risk. Try something new.

You don't have to know how to do the thing you love to do. A friend who plays improv piano brilliantly once told me, "I don't really know how to play the piano." And I knew just what he meant. 

He doesn't know how. He couldn't draw a diagram of where his fingers should be at any given point in the song. It's a sort of a dance of the fingers across the keys, and there's a bit of a mystery about how it happens. It would be such a strain on the brain to have to pre-plan every note, every harmony, every ornament. Not knowing how is actually more fun.

Finding a creative outlet may or may not make you a great singer, tap-dancer or trapeze artist. But it will make you a happier person. And that will make you better at everything else, like doing your job or raising a family. And you will have a secret identity as an arteest.

Doesn't matter if you aren't good enough or you don't know how or you don't do it right or Aunt Matilda Louise disapproves. 

Do it anyway!


  1. Amen, sister! Thanks for encouraging me, on this cloudy Monday morning, to forget about paying the bills and write that blog post instead!

  2. I love it, Patty! And I hope you're referring to your piano playing and not your writing when you call yourself "mediocre." I've never heard you play piano, but you're definitely not a mediocre writer!