While thinking about our prompt of “Stones” today, I thought back to when I was a little kid and loved skipping stones across the water. It was a game of taking a flat stone and flinging it into the water to watch it bounce across the surface. The goal, beyond just having fun and killing time, was to get the stone to skip several times before sinking. I would be happy with just a handful of skips and I it was just cool to see the stone gliding across the water. Apparently, though, when taken as a more serious sport, it’s possible to make many more skips across the water. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world record for the most number of skips is 88 and is held by Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner. It’s no surprise that I myself never even came close to such a historic feat, most likely because literally nobody who knows me would ever give me anything resembling the nickname of “Mountain Man.” But, as with most things in life, no matter what we try, there’s always someone out there who’s more accomplished. Thankfully, when it comes to having fun, none of that really matters at all!
I’ve never been particularly athletic, so throwing objects was probably a skill best left to those who excel at sport. I had friends much more gifted in that arena who could skip stones like champions. Though my own stone-skipping ability was questionable in comparison, I didn’t mind. It was just so much fun to DO! As I grew up, nothing much changed in that approach to life. I’m still happily trying anything I can as I leave mastery to the masters. It’s not that I don’t wish to improve, I certainly try to, it’s simply that I’ve learned that practice is all it really takes to get better at something. So, worrying over mastery, is entirely unnecessary. I just keep skipping along, like a stone dancing across the water, seeing just how far I can get before I sink, and then I hop up and start skipping again with glee. And the moment I don’t feel that glee is the only moment I stop to question what it is I’m trying. There have been many hobbies that sort of lost their thrill, but sketching and writing has been the most thrilling hobby ever.
I have a secret dream, of course, of being able to illustrate and write full time, but in the meantime, I’m happy just finding a little moment each and every day to practice. And, in many ways, the fact that it hasn’t become like a job, is rather freeing. It’s still just a visit to a playground of ideas and thoughts that I capture for the sheer enjoyment of doing it. And I DO hope whoever finds my sketches and rambles will enjoy them as well. As I get older, I find the greatest enjoyment in life comes from embracing the best bits with all my heart. This is indeed what makes me come across crazy with optimism all of the time, but that’s how I choose to live. Life is too short to waste being grumpy about things that aren’t exactly as we’d like them to be. Perhaps that’s why I so often think back to my littlest self and try to once again harness that pure, simple feeling of wonder and creativity. To me, that’s the secret elixir, or the fountain of youth. A magical place where a series of memories can remind me that I once believed I could do anything at all. Even if I wasn’t the very best, when it came to skipping stones.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo (my “Vintage” Trio!), + Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black 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!