Saturday, April 13, 2013

303/365: Timing is Everything

Today I planted a tree on my canvas...
1'x2' acrylic on wood panel, piece in progress
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. 
The next best time is now.” 
Chinese Proverb

The best time to develop our craft, the best time to start a new project, the best time to launch entrepreneurial efforts...Sure it would have been lovely to have had the brilliant ideas, resources and courage to begin our life's dream when we were fresh out of school. Some of us get to do just that. What about the rest of us? Is it too late to change direction? Is it too soon to give ourselves permission? Is it a wise time financially? We could go on like this forever...

When I first started on the creative path, almost four years ago, I had negative inner voices that would taunt me. "You're too late; it's already being done. You should have tried to develop your artistic talents in high school or college, when you first had the inkling that you wanted to be an artist. You're on a different path now and it would be a waste to veer. It's too late to change your mind about how you want your life to go." 

While the negative self-talk slowed me down (considerably), it didn't stop me. Little by little I learned to tune those voices out. I focused on expressing myself in whatever way brought me joy. I just worked at being creative for the sake of being creative. Creativity won me over and it no longer mattered if I thought I was talented enough or experienced enough, or if I thought it was a good use of my time. I just needed to make.

Eventually the whispers of growing my creative life got louder and louder. That's how I ended up where I am now, doing a 365 challenge, sharing my art and writing and actually learning from it. There is no turning back on this path. Now the creative life has won me over. And today, I can hear the whispers that ask, "What if you could somehow make a business being creative and doing what you love? What if you could share your art and your passion for the creative process with more people?"

The negative voices are there too. "Your family's financial security is at stake. No one will take you seriously. You're not making enough art. You don't have what it takes to be an entrepreneur." This is how it is in my head. Building myself up and talking myself down.

detail of paint carving
I frequently question the strength of my roots. Going out on a limb (pun intended) is scary. It was scary a year ago, it will be scary five years from now. I just keep remembering how it all went down a few years back. I didn't back away. I persevered. I made progress. Some might call it slow progress. Some might call me a late bloomer. But in the grand scheme of life, I'd like to hope that I'm blessed with plenty of time left to live my dreams. I am learning my lesson about letting fear slow me down, and I'm beginning to really truly believe that it's never too late.

What we have to be willing to acknowledge is that acting on our dreams now is very rarely going to bring them to fruition in the now. (Unless your dream is to go into your kitchen and get a bowl of ice cream, which is another thing I don't recommend putting off.) Acting on our dreams is just taking action towards our dreams, most likely in very small steps. Just like a tree, they will need a good deal of time to grow. Could the very thought of this be stalling us? What if we just acknowledged that it's going to be a long arduous process requiring patience and perseverance, and then stuck the shovel in the earth anyway?

If we continue to put off our dreams (for the hundreds of reasons we can name off the top of our heads), we will never be any closer to realizing them. Our dreams won't ever have a chance to take root. 

I know this now: If I want my tree to mature, to provide shade, to bear fruit in my lifetime, I better get to planting. Even if the growing takes years and years. 

Picture that place in your life where a dream could grow. Take a tiny step towards it. Let it win you over. And start shoveling dirt.

The best time to act on your dreams is now.

1 comment:

  1. I have always wondered what it would have been like to be one of those lucky people that had the chance to play in La-La land (my name for the happy place where I go to make things and no one bothers me)right out of school or without worry of where is my next paycheck coming from and while it sounds like a wonderful idea I think it's just that.
    Those of us that are late bloomers creatively have a wealth of life experience that we can channel into what we create. We are no longer wild eyed young college kids with delusions of grandeur we are grown ups that have taken the time to embrace our creativity and find ways to integrate it into our daily lives and to recognize creativity in it's simplest forms.
    The hardest part know is the act of learning to let go and just let yourself create with no plan or intention.
    You've always been a bit of a late bloomer and you've always been one of the most artistic people I have ever is your time make the best of it!