Wide-eyed and eager, spontaneously curious and fearlessly willing, focused, purposeful, and whimsically creative… these are some ways to describe our Summer Art Camp students who we had the pleasure of creating with this past summer season. These young blooming artists, aged between 6 and 16 years, had 15+ hours of practice over the course of 5 consecutive days and had the opportunity to both try new mediums and experiment with those already familiar to them.
While their creations never fail to amaze us, what amazes us most is their seemingly limitless capacity. “I can’t” is simply not yet an option that they believe about themselves at heart— even if they verbalize these two words in a moment of frustration. Regardless of whether they do on their own or at the suggestion of an instructor, they always do. Maybe without even being cognizant of the fact, “no” is not an answer. It isn’t even that they refuse to take “no” for an answer… it simply isn’t even an option available.
How many of us can easily relate? How many of us are willing to and actively do experiment—both with those things new and familiar— and is this the norm or the exception for us? How many of us are truly and honestly blooming to our full potential? How many of us recognize the molds we’ve let ourselves sink into—the molds that have become our “default settings?” How many of us actively, intentionally, and purposefully break these molds? How many of us make excuses for why we don’t— or even why we needn’t or shouldn’t? How many of us let “no” be our answer— before the question is even asked?
Maybe you relate more to the first paragraph or maybe you relate more to the less than idealistic implications of the second. Either way, we all have much to be grateful for if we’re reading this— namely the existence of today and the hope of tomorrow. As long as we have this, change is always possible. But what happens that makes some? most? of us gradually float away from the boldness we all enter here with? And, more importantly, what happens that makes some of us continue to carry that spark with us as we grow more and more experienced? Walt Disney had a nine word answer: “Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.” In other words (and words which titled The Blooming Artist Gallery’s opening 2023 exhibition), perspective matters. And, in fact, perspective is precisely what separates the first paragraph relaters to the second paragraph relaters.
I wonder whether actually forgetting or trying to forget the truth of Walt Disney’s wise reminder as we exit, enter, and journey through new life stages is more common. Sure— with each new birthday comes additional weights we must carry: expectations, responsibilities, people who depend on us, etc. But do these really necessitate that we lose ourselves, conforming to an idea of who we are supposed to be given these weights? Preconceived notions, about absolutely anything— and especially about our roles given x, y, or z— can have a dangerous power. They can subjectively limit what we believe is possible and not possible, or what is an option for us and what isn’t. Now, we are not advocating that we all should forgo good sense and practicality. The added weights of each milestone certainly do and should bring about changes naturally. Yet these changes needn’t, and shouldn’t, be conditioned changes. There’s no reason we can’t still approach new experiences with an open heart and an open mind just because we “grow up” and are stuck in our own molds, and there is certainly no reason we should stop seeking them.
In fact, isn’t there something even more wonderful about newness after we already have some experience? We have so much more to bring to the proverbial table— we can use what we already have figured out to help us with what we haven’t. Our confidence certainly increases as we come to know more, which hopefully enables us to not only try new things but to try them with a genuine “can do” attitude. We all started whatever we’re (now) good at as absolute beginners, after all. And with more mistakes behind us… the better we should be at both responding to and preventing the mistakes we might make in the future! Witnessing yourself having done something you thought would be difficult or impossible, even, is surely the best deposit that we can leave towards our future selves.
So whether it is taking a new class here at The Blooming Artist, picking up your dusty paintbrush again, or starting that something that’s been just a wish for far too long… consider this an invitation to (re)start— now. Because all we are guaranteed is now, and what a wonderful world it would be if we all continued to bloom towards our potential!