There was a time when you drew pictures.
With crayons and fat pencils you traced your world, oblivious to constraints that now stifle your creativity. There wasn’t a right or wrong way to draw, you just created. Your eyes savored everything they saw and you learned to explain this on paper with scribbles.
You drew things from all sides because that is how you saw them. Front, back, and inside-out. Proportion was something you felt rather than measured. Literal perspective didn’t interest you so you drew what something felt like, not how it appeared.
You drew the things you knew and loved. Your bike, mom and dad, and your pet. Love was expressed not by the accuracy of your lines but by the feelings inside you as you would drag your pencil across the paper. And for a while these treasures were posted on household monuments, held up by loose magnets and pushpins.
Then something terrible happened.
Criticism crept it. It no longer looked right. You become unsatisfied with the result. Maybe you came to this harsh realization on your own, or maybe someone corrected you. All of a sudden a new goal was imposed upon your drawings: realism.
And that was the day when your appreciation for abstraction died. Perfection became the goal and you never recovered.
From that day forward you held your drawing up and compared it against a more photographic representation of your world. Some of us gave up and never seriously drew a picture again. The fun was gone because we thought that drawing was really hard.
Some of us dug in and set out to perfect our drawings. We put down our crayons and started using both sides of the pencil. We burned through erasers as corrections were made. We learned to shade. We took measurements and traced photographs. Eventually our drawings started to look more like photographs. And that pleased us for a while.
A rare few became experts at drawing, refining the craft and creating stunning artifacts. Others embraced the camera and the literal renderings it delivers, pushing reality to reveal things that people have never seen before. Still others found other ways of expression leaving drawing behind in favor of music, writing, engineering, or some other profession where creativity is rewarded. We usually call these people artists. But most people never recover from the shock that they experienced when realism was imposed on their drawings as a child.
What if the oppression of realism was an artifact of adulthood that could be shed just as suddenly as your childhood realization that your drawings didn’t look right? Perhaps our understanding of the world is a constant revelation and not a two-stroke experience of pre/post adulthood. What is the next discovery of your life after you abandon your quest for perfection? Could it begin today?