For Day 13 of World Watercolor Month and our optional prompt of “Strong,” I ended up with an elephant since it’s the world’s strongest mammal. But, then I thought about my childhood and how in cartoons you’d always find an elephant hopping on a table or chair to avoid a little mouse. It’s true that elephants will startle if any little rodent darts by near their feet, but they haven’t really developed a true case of musophobia, or the fear of mice. It’s much like when I found mice in my house a few years ago. I did jump when I saw one, but I wasn’t really afraid, just irritated that whatever plan I had at the time was going to be replaced with setting traps. It all made me think about my actual fears, and which things in life scare me the most. I do have a fear of heights, which I assume stems from a proactive way to simply avoid the fear of falling, but it’s not something that terrifies me. I think in many cases, my fears are really just small and irritating, like a mouse. They’re bits of worrying self-doubt that, despite having no right to do so, always manage to swirl into something larger in an attempt to become meaningful.

I’ve often considered myself a strong person, at least emotionally. Hundreds of trips to the gym when I was younger proved conclusively that I wasn’t going to be particular strong physically. That was actually a wonderful thing to discover as I hated going to the gym, and it was getting in the way of more creative and less narcissistic hobbies. Now, I just make sure to exercise by taking lots of walks and stairs. From an emotional level, while I do have anxiety, I can’t say that I often suffer from it. I’ve found ways over the years to redirect my aimless mind so that I never really feel beat down or dysfunctional. But, there have been moments in my life where the world did seem like everything around me was almost too much to bear. It’s that nagging feeling of helplessness that makes even the simplest problems suddenly feel unsolvable.

Today, I have my sketching habit and I credit my generally always happy feeling to this very fun hobby. Coloring with watercolor, in particular, always sends my mind to a place where I can escape any negative thoughts and simply relax into a world of light and hue. It’s quite amazing! Even on the days when I think I’m too rushed or can’t quite come up with an idea of something to create, once I start, my mood is completely transformed. And, after I’ve managed to create something I’m in a much happier mood when Philippe and I sit down for dinner. Whatever was weighing on my mind just before that time fades to the background and I’m able to be fully present. But, it does take a bit of pushing some days. So, it’s nice to know that a mighty elephant can still get a bit nervous around mice. There will always be a little something that all folks will fear at some point in life, even the strongest.

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Elephant Scared Of Mouse Standing On Stool Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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14 thoughts on “Even The Strongest

  1. Charlie that is awesome 🙂 I know what you mean about the mood change – I find too that once I do ‘something’ with art I am so much happier. I had a real experience in nature that I was able to capture with my camera and even did a Pecha Kucha on it. The short version is two Topi males fighting. The victor came across a Mama Kori Bustard strolling with its baby. He went over to her and she raised up and spread her feathers a bit and that Topi actually ‘urched’ and stopped on a dime, turned around and ran away. Funniest thing ever to see such a big strong beast running from a bird 1/8th its size. Your elephant reminds me of that incident.

  2. Elephants will definitely get nervous when something small scurries by – but it better scurry fast because a nervous elephant is quite like to stomp you flat, or whack you a good one with their trunk! It is amazing how art can calm you. I think it’s a form of meditation – watching the pen or brush glide across paper and seeing how the surface changes.

  3. Hello Charlie,

    At first glance I thought the elephant had been dancing and had hopped onto the stool as a part of a hooping skipping dance step. Then I noticed the mouse and for some reason I thought the mouse was telling the elephant “Jump Ellie, I’ll catch you!” That would sure take a very strong mouse. And I so agree, playing with color is a strong thing to do too coz the activity so effortlessly pushes all the weighty stuff away. If only actual body weight would fall away just as easily… sigh…


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