Like most people I’d rather be a chameleon, I’d rather blend in. It feels easier, it takes less effort, it is less awkward and more comfortable. But it isn’t really learning and it isn’t really growth unless you feel some growing pains.
I recently went to the Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, a big event with a visually stunning array of vegetables, hippies, hipsters, heritage farm animals, and plants. It would have been easier just to meander around the fairgrounds, idly chatting, and snapping photos but my goal was to practice sketching and journaling while there.
I struggled, I procrastinated, I had trouble choosing where to start amidst the piles of beautiful cucurbits! But I finally pushed myself, I focused, I committed to a few squash and pumpkins to draw. I put in my earphones and tried to tune out the hum of many people talking in a poor acoustic environment. I tried to tune out the buzzing flies that were landing on me. I tried to tune out all the other things I could be drawing instead or cute people I could be talking to.
Here I am five hours later with piles of squash still to be drawn…tired of trying but glad I tried.
Journaling in public takes mental and emotional energy. You can’t blend into the crowd. You can’t just be another overstimulated adult with an iPhone wandering around in the illusion that it is better to attend to many things at once. Otherwise, you might miss the giant pumpkin contest!
When you are journaling you have to prioritize, decide, commit, and dedicate your preciously narrow beam of attention to one thing at a time. This is a muscle that continues to atrophy in our culture. You also have to create something instead of just consuming it.
I’m sharing this recent experience because it is a situation where I struggled, I had lots of self-doubts, and I had lapses of self-discipline. My pumpkin drawings sucked at first and I was nervous about all the people but I kept going.
I’m also sharing this because I gave myself permission to fail and therefore gave myself permission to actually try.
Come to the Heirloom Expo next September and we can try together.