I dare you.

 

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There is something that I want to dare you to do today, or tomorrow, or the next time you show up at your creative practice.

First, I want you to work until you have created (painted, written, carved, arranged) something you are pleased with. Got it? Okay. Now for the dare.

I dare you to cover it up.

I chuckle as I write this. I can see your face, as you read that. “Why the !#$& would I do that?” you want to know.

Indeed, why on earth would we cover up what is good, in fact, almost or altogether erase, what we enjoy about our work? What we’ve worked so hard to get to? Because we all know, in our creative pursuits, it’s no small feat to actually arrive somewhere in our work that we enjoy, or are proud of.

And yet, I believe we must. We must be willing to cover it up, or in other words, to let it go. Aside from starting a blank canvas, or even forging ahead when we really hate what’s appearing in front of us and it is challenging us to no end, this may be the most difficult thing you do in your creative process. And perhaps it might also be the most important.

Because it isn’t actually erasure. It’s going further. It’s challenging  yourself to go further than you thought, to surprise yourself in what else you have to pull from inside of you, and to create. It’s a dare of the boldest kind – to allow that all that good you’ve just made will play a part in something great that is yet to be. But it may take allowing the good to be an under-layer, and bravely – very bravely, even if timidly as well, stepping into the unknown of what’s possible.

I think of this as a metaphor for our own selves. When we seek to improve ourselves, we so often have trouble getting started. Then when we’re working on progress, we get challenged in so many ways.  Once we have arrived at a place of accomplishment, we deserve to revel in the feeling, to bathe in our success, and of course, to acknowledge and congratulate ourselves. But I always wonder if we stop too short. If we don’t press on, simply because we can see some achievement, and we want to enjoy it.  It’s natural, and I get it, but if painting has taught me anything, it’s taught me that to dare to go further than that basic satisfaction is when the magic really starts.

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