When I was a kid, I never actually visited a beach, but we always had seashells that we’d purchase or receive from friends. Every type of shell fascinated, but one particular kind was absolutely captivating. They are actually the shell of a medium-sized sea snail in the genus of Turritella, but I had no idea of this back then. No, I simply thought of them as unicorn horns and imagined they were magical and once belonged to the world’s tiniest of unicorns. I’m not sure that I actually thought tiny unicorns existed in real life, but that never really mattered to me back then. Anything I could imagine was as real as it needed to be for me. I could spend hours imagining all sorts of things back then and never once questioned the validity of such thoughts. Today, I’m just as optimistic, eager and imaginative, but I now have a silly adult trait. The one I simply refer to as the “buzz kill moment” where, while imagining something, I try to decide if it’s truly possible or not. Like when I have a new idea and then begin to analyze whether it’s something that will really work. Yet, the irony is that it’s entirely impossible to really know without actually trying it. This is something my little self knew well.
Though I seem to jump into just about anything that comes to mind, the truth is there are many things I’ve pushed to the back of mind. Dreams that are burning there like a candle with only a bit of wax left to keep it lit. These are sometimes the things I’d love to do most, but my analysis of them told me they are a bit too farfetched, even for me. Or, that I simply don’t have the skills required to do something like that and no time to acquire them. In some ways, this may be a bit true, but that just means the dream might take a bit of extra work to make it happen. My brain nearly screams at me that there’s just not enough time in the day to do these things, yet my heart refuses to let go. It’s my heart, after all, that carries the wisdom of my inner child. That spirit of longing for something and actually chasing after it without much thought. This is something I struggle to access still today. And in a world that’s become a social media window into the lives of nearly everyone else on the planet, it’s easy to make comparisons with others. I wish I could be like this person or why didn’t I start doing this years ago? I’m too old to start that now.
In truth, I can’t dispel all of these thoughts entirely. I wish I could ignore them, but I’ve found that it’s rather impossible. Instead, I’ve discovered that the best solution is to simply start doing whatever it is anyway. The very act of doing something is a wonderful distraction from any dissenting voices that might be spinning around in my head. Sure, I may not be the best at whatever I’m trying to accomplish next. There will always be others who are far more talented than I am. But, I can write and sketch something new each and every day and it’s always something that only I could ever make. That’s a pretty magical thought. Those series of lines in the sketch and this series of words are unique to me and therefore special. And as I continue to practice each and every day, I discover new things that I take with me to the next attempt on the next day. Oftentimes, I think I should probably have some grand goal in mind for this art journey. Some place I would like to see it take me in the end. Other times, I think that this is really not necessary at all. Most of the time, the greatest pleasure in life can be found by simply enjoying it in the moment. So, I’m quite content writing and sketching whatever comes to mind each day. After all of these years, I’m still just collecting unicorn horns.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Opus (Vivid Pink), Bezimida Orange, Terra Cotta, Yellow Ochre, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!