Be a beginner

Much is discussed in the art world, and in works dealing with creativity more generally, about the gift children have of expressing themselves without fear or censure. Children draw with a freedom that is not weighed down with expectation or judgement, they speak honestly of their thoughts and their ideas are unfettered by silly practicalities.

Many writers warn against ever feeling like an expert. With expertise can come a belief that everything is known, that there is no more to learn. This is a static state and one that stops us in our tracks – forces us to repeat behaviours that have worked in the past and close our eyes to new possibilities.

Child-like vision is, of course, something to strive for in a creative life – in any life. Can we, as adults, burdened with our hopes, critical faculties and sometimes unrealistic aspirations capture some of the bright and shiny beginning-ness of childhood.

We learn most voraciously as a beginner but, somewhere in our teens, middle or older years, we move to avoiding things at which we feel less than competent. We like to feel in control, as if we are presenting a capable face both to the world and to ourselves, and we usually don’t feel comfortable fumbling around with uncertainty. We believe that because we are grown-ups we are meant to be able to do things.

Whether in a field in which we have some knowledge or in a completely new pursuit we should strive for that innocence of the young – that delight they take in whatever they do without feeling that they should be something else. We learn that feeling, or perhaps develop it within ourselves, in order to function in our world but we can still try – try deliberately and hard – to become excited beginners again.

Until later,


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