When I was a kid, I think my most memorable special trips were to the local zoo. I adore animals and getting to see so many different kinds in one place was a real joy. Of course, as an adult, I hope that animals can roam free whenever possible, but good zoos do much to preserve and protect certain species so that’s an equally important thing. Where I live, the zoo was quite small when I was young, but seemed gigantic. The animals didn’t have much room to play and I always felt a bit sorry for them. Today, thankfully, it’s grown incredibly large in size and the animals are cage free and live in much larger habitats. Though I adored the seals and their antics in the show that would happen each day, the giraffes fascinated me most. They were just so insanely tall that I was mesmerized. Occasionally, they’d flick the world’s longest, darkest tongue out to grab something off a tree and I was thrilled. When they’d look at you they’d seem to be at once totally unimpressed and other times as though they were really studying you. Most likely thinking, “why are you so small?” I stared back and mouthed silently, “one day, I’ll be as tall as you.” The giraffe, in reality or just my imagination, nodded as if to quietly approve.
Well years passed and I did grow up, I became rather tall I guess at 6″ 2½” feet (189cm) and it all happened rather quickly. It was nearly in the course of summer. This was a good thing as I was a pudgy youth and the growth spurt managed to stretch me out and make me thin. Not as gangly as a giraffe, but in many ways close, with long legs and arms that were lanky and not built for bulky muscle. My neck was thankfully not bizarrely elongated, but the similarities were still there. I guess, I got my wish, in whatever silent pact I made with the giraffe that day. Not that giraffes are capable of granting wishes, of course, but perhaps they are. One look into those deep dark eyes and you can see that there are mysteries there we may never understand. I actually make little wishes like this just about any time I can. Silly things like, if I’m able to drink this tea in one sip or toss the ball of foil into the bin, then some other thing will happen. My follow-up is horrible so I have no idea if these wishes ever actually come true. I just like the idea of wishing and dreaming of things that I want to happen next.
In many ways, I think that getting a wish is great, but the act of making it is far more fun. Sometimes, getting what I wished for wasn’t all that great in the end. It can often pale in comparison to the fantasy that I designed in my imagination. A wish, after all, is simply an ethereal thing that holds infinite possibilities. It can always trump reality because our imaginations are far more colorful than anything we could ever fully manifest. I feel that as I’m painting each day and the thing I had in my head doesn’t compare with what actually comes out on paper. But it’s rather close, and certainly with watercolor, that’s a pretty wonderful thing indeed. Many of my wishes are silly little things, almost trivial. Sure, there’s the wish I could retire and paint all day long wish, but that will actually come in time. The others are range from tiny to gigantic including the ultimate wish for peace and harmony in the world. So, although I will certainly never get all that I wish for, I will continue to have my silent wishful conversations just as I did as a kid, filled with childish hope, each time I’m visiting a giraffe at the zoo.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Terra Cotta 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!