One of the most invigorating and inspirational experiences I’ve had lately resulted from my presence in an art classroom for a day. It occurred to me that unlike adults who have preconceived ideas about their skills and limitations, children just don’t.

The best example is made clear when you ask kinder and first grade classes to watch a video and draw pictures of sub sandwiches. Not one student will say, “I’m terrible at art,” or “I can’t do it – I can’t draw.” In all cases, students jumped in and did their best. Some of them were quite creative. All were done enthusiastically and without restraint, until I got to the fifth graders. Here the story was somewhat different. Some students did their best and created art; in others, the students checked out, to disturb the class or decide to do nothing at all. Perhaps the fear of failure was the cause. They never said a word.

We have so much to learn from the younger students! And I am at the top of the list of those who can benefit from their lessons. For as long as I can recollect, I have told myself that I have no artistic abilities. My entire history has been one of living down to that expectation. No matter where or when, I have avoided any activities involving crayons, charcoal, oils, or watercolors.

It may be a question of practicing what I preach to confess this lack of effort. As someone who is forever encouraging would-be writers to enable themselves to write, maybe I have non-painted myself into a corner.

In my effort to justify, I have forever reminded myself that I am a writer and being one is more than enough in terms of artistic efforts. Maybe it’s not. Maybe I could have or still could derive some enjoyment from drawing, painting, sketching, or sculpting. It must be either fear of failing or fear of succeeding that has kept me from trying.

And so, my message is the same – if you want to do something, do it. Saying, “I can’t” remains the weakest of excuses because you really can. Shalom.

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