Last night, I watched someone paint. I cannot paint, for reference. I think what I like most about painting is that I can’t paint. There is never any sort of jealousy or anger associated with painting because I know I can’t and I’m content where I am with my lack of skills. It’s very humbling.
My friends can all paint. I tend to be competitive about skills, so you would think I would be frustrated having such talented friends, but I am not. I’m mature now.
As I was saying, last night my friend was watercoloring. I happened upon her after she had painted an avocado and labeled the painting “An Avocado.” She is quite witty. My friend began another painting. She mixed a few colors together and whipped the brush across the paper to make a hill. She then dipped her brush back in the paint and put a nice blob of yellow at the top of her hill.
“What an artistic blob,” I thought. I assumed the blob was the setting sun because I am not creative and assume every yellow blob will become either a sunrise or a sunset. You are all very lucky I do not paint.
My friend continued to paint and the hill became a rolling hill that tumbled into a golden wheat field–at sunset, obviously. But then, my whole world turned upside down. I imagine this epiphanous moment will be the focus of a chapter in the memoir I will write in my old age.
The yellow blob, which I though was the sun, became a building in a matter of two seconds. My friend, the painting genius, with four strokes, painted the outline of a building over the yellow blob and it was transformed. Or as the kids would say, #transformationtuesday.
I was so wrong to assume that all yellow blobs are the sun, and if not the sun, at least a lemon. Again, this is why I don’t paint.
While everyone else who witnessed the transformation of the yellow blob was relatively unimpressed, I have not stopped thinking about what occurred on that watercolor paper last night.
I assume the way I view the yellow blob is how I view my life too.
“You view your life as either a sunrise or a sunset or sometimes a lemon?”
No. That would be ridiculous (or would it??). What I mean is that I look at my circumstances and gather a conclusion based on what I see. I see that I am in a specific situation, so I can predict the rest of my life based on the present. For example, I took a Public Relations class and told my grandma that I wanted a career in PR, so the rest of my life will be me working a PR job. Done. I interpreted the picture based on a yellow blob.
Life doesn’t work that way. When we guess what our yellow blobs are going to be, we are almost always incorrect. That is because we are not the ones painting the picture. As much as you want to believe you have control over your life, there will be countless times when unexpected situations arise, good and bad, that create a different picture for your life.
I like to reflect on my original life plan. If it were up to 12-year-old Rachel, I would be at a large state university studying mechanical engineering so I could later become a roller coaster engineer, or “imagineer,” for Disney. It’s not that I could not have fulfilled this dream, but I should not ever pursue engineering. First off, physics and I do not get along the way I thought we would and, second, I now know I do not want to do math for the rest of my life.
While I still enjoy math, the benefits of accurate mechanical engineering, and roller coasters, I thought I had myself figured out by assuming one aspect of who I was would define what I would do for the rest of my life. How presumptuous.
The course my life has taken deviated significantly from the multitude of plans I made for myself. Looking back, my favorite memories and experiences were with people and in places I could have never dreamt up myself. My yellow blob is transforming into something far greater than I once thought. After all, I’m no painter.
“What are you doing after you graduate?” “What do you want to do for a career?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “Who will be the most influential actor of our generation?”
These are all examples of questions I cannot definitively answer. If I answered these questions with any sort of confidence or certainty, I would be lying and incorrect. Even if I told you Matthew McConaughey is the most influential actor of our generation (For the record, it’s obviously Tom Hanks).
No plans are my favorite type of long-term plans. I used to think it was a cop-out, but I really do believe that we should not attempt to plan out our lives. It is a waste of time and a flat-out refusal to let the real artist of our lives work. It’s like saying that a yellow blob is always a sunset when it could be a building! I hope that analogy is as exciting to you as it is to me.
Our lives will be much more dynamic and thrilling than anything we can imagine. If we put limitations on what our future could hold by sticking to our sunrises and sunsets, we will have a boring picture that looks like it was painted by a toad rather than the masterful artist who created the world. Your life will be more colorful and more complex than the universe. Allow the artist to create.