You begin your life with this clean, blank piece of canvas. You are given basic colours and brushes to begin with. However, with time and maturity, you are presented with a wider range of colours and different tools as your skills and abilities improve. You are taught to just sit down, focus on our canvas and diligently stroke our brushes across the surface, and as a result you will create better and better artworks. But it’s just not enough for you.
So you dab your brushes. Blotting and smudging the canvas according to instructions of your teachers and guides. Barely painting within the lines and regularly glancing across the room to see how different your individual works are from your fellow mates. You notice how much better everyone else’s pieces are, and convince yourself that it’s not your lack of effort that you are lagging behind, but rather that painting is just not your forte.
You eventually get bored. Tired of painting, you begin to wonder what else you could be besides a student of the canvas. You look at your hands in wonder of what other tools you could wield. What else can you dabble with?
So you wander off. Abandoning your canvases and the group of people you started your journey with. You walk across the room to the corner where splinters are flying and sawdust is in the air. Everyone here is seemingly immersed in wood related endeavours. All so busy in a way that is disturbingly odd yet alluring to you. Without any instruction, any experience, you protrude yourself into other people's workspaces with a spirit of expertise, as if to convince those who’ve begun watching you that you actually know what you are doing. And before you know it, you’ve hammered a nail into your own palm.
The pain is intense. Tear jerking. But nothing a quick trip to the nurse's office can’t fix. After the necessary medical procedures you are back where you started. Everything the nurse, your instructors and your guardians lectured you on seemingly went in one ear and out the other. You don’t sit back down to work on your original craft. You don’t go back to your woodworking aspirations either. You’ve decided to head for the glaziers by the window. You stick your head out only to be blinded by the sparks from welders working on installing a new window frame. Knowing you haven’t even begun to recover from the unfortunate results of your last adventure into the unknown, you still opt to try your hands in what looks like an exciting new endeavour.
The surrounding people caution against joining them on this project. “You don’t have the necessary safety gear”, “you know nothing about glazing and what goes into this job”, but none of this seems to phase you long enough to keep you settled longer than a few minutes. You watch and try to pick up what you think are ample skills to help perform the job. You scrambled to the nearest supply closet to get a jumpsuit, gloves, mask and harness, all of which are too big for you. But you turn a blind eye, telling yourself that you’ll make it work, somehow.
One step, two, and boom. You are out the window and on the ground floor with two broken legs.
You wake up in a hospital bed, cracking open your eyes to gazes from loved ones whose disappointed stares fill up the empty spaces in the room. You’ve managed not only to sustain some hefty injuries, but also inconvenienced a lot of people's lives, not to mention you didn’t even finish any of the pieces of work you started. And that right there is the problem. That is the arrogance that has broken your legs and injured our thumb.
As a people we rarely take enough time to think things through. Life, work, relationships, finances. As adults, many of us haven’t grown past the child-like tendency to bounce from one activity to the next as soon as we get bored. Always walking away from one thing assuming there’s something, someone, better out there for us. And we usually find what we are looking for, but rarely is it ever what we need. Chasing the high, whatever it may be for you, never ends well.
Because we aren’t really bothered about the implications of our actions, let alone the prerequisites for long-term success, we find ourselves in this inescapable cycle of shallow fascinations followed by big mistakes and painful regrets, and if we are lucky a lesson or two on what not to do next time.
We just go. And like children who have no experience to guide us, we regularly get hurt, in more ways than one. Our egos, our hearts, our wallets, even our limbs. We just become a walking testimony of bad decisions.
But this could all be avoided.
If just for one second, you wait and think to yourself, “maybe instead of walking away from this painting, I should just take a break and reevaluate”. You might find that all you need is to shift your focus from the centrepiece of your painting to the margins that could be the actual masterpiece. Change your perspective and discover a new muse in the corners of your work.
If we thought more we would avoid injury, because we’d incrementally develop the foresight to know that we do not wield the necessary skills to build tables and smelt windows into place. We would watch professionals at their craft and learn to appreciate skills we know nothing about. We would accept the facts, in a way that isn't belittling to our own capabilities, but rather encouragingly, in a direction that will slowly develop us to a place where we too can be the experts everyone looks up to.
“If we thought more we would avoid injury”
And before you know it, you would have years of experience beneath your belt and in the palms of your hands. Your name would be carved into the wood of multiple masterpieces, and every time you see someone about to overextend themselves, you’d stop them from making the same mistakes as you did and offer them a wisdom that can only be amassed through regularly thinking things through.