There are certain things I always see. I see the bodies of dancers in trees, the running of horses in clouds and the man with the kind smile in the moon.
I’ve seen them since I was a little girl and kept it to myself because I thought if I spoke it out loud I would sound crazy.
But then I remembered… I am crazy.
We all are just a little bit. Some more than others. I don’t think any of us get through this life without picking up a little crazy on the way.
I’m saying this because recently my daughter shared with me her fear of using up her art supplies. She has drawers of unopened, untouched paint. Perfectly wrapped in their colorful box. Perfectly unused. Instead she squeezes out the last bits she can from old paint that she’s had. Squeeze, squeeze, add water to give it some life — like CPR for paint. I watched her and finally said,
Baby, you have drawers of brand new paint. Why don’t you use them?
And here is where she looked at me for a long, silent minute before saying,
If I do they won’t be what they are anymore… Is that crazy?
Crazy. That word that haunts all of us. Making us feel that how we think is wrong and must not be shared.
No, honey, it’s not.
She proceeded to talk for the next hour about all her thoughts around this subject. Her not wanting to ruin or use anything that is so perfect in its original form — paint, colored pencils, clay. She said how beautiful they are and she likes seeing them that way.
I listened for a long time as the relief of opening this secret thought seemed to give to her. And then she looked at me,
Do you have thoughts like that, mama?
And that’s when I shared my dancing trees, horse racing clouds and the one man who has always been there for me… the dude in the moon.
We talked for a long time and the longer we did the more we laughed and shared and exposed all our weird thoughts until we found ourselves celebrating our “crazy”.
You know, baby, you can keep those art supplies in the drawer if you want. But they exist to be used. To be transformed into something beautiful by the artist who picks them up. You are that artist. You have the ability to bring them to life. And, when they’re no longer in the box, and instead on canvas or paper, sculpted into animals and people and houses… there will be more in the drawer for you to use. There will always be more in the drawer.
She hugged me so tight and I could feel in her hug the pure relief of sharing what she was certain made her different in a bad way.
Since that talk, all her art supplies are being used. There are colored pencil shavings everywhere, paint brushes in sinks and clay towns on display. And when she runs out… there will be more.
But she does have one box of paint in her drawer. One box that remains untouched, unopened, unused. Because for my kid, that in itself is beautiful art.
I see the bodies of dancers in trees, the running of horses in clouds and the man with the kind smile in the moon.
I love being crazy… and now my daughter does too.