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I Dare to Paint

Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneurs worst enemy. Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego. Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.

A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. Its only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” – Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue?     (Author: Matt Cheuvront)


As a kid, I wanted to be a painter.

I always had some sort of art project going, something I’d dream about between sessions and that I’d revisit eager and refreshed.  I drew endless sketches, doodled constantly, took classes that had me carving, sculpting, building, collaging, painting.  I was a hardworking academic, and the art classes were like oxygen for me — I could relax and breathe deeply while lost in my projects.

But then I got to college, where art classes were taken seriously.  The kids in my classes had real talent, and they knew it.  There wasn’t the same level of oxygen available to me in those vast studios.  I sketched more self-consciously, and painted in a reserved sort of way.  I wasn’t able to relax, and so I wasn’t able to produce art that came from my heart.

I took two classes before deciding I was done with art.  I became a mediocre art historian instead of a painter.

And yet.

I go to art supply stores whenever I travel, lingering at the paints.  I hold the brushes, wondering about the different techniques available through a broad floppy brush, then a stiff pointy one.  But I never buy them.

What holds me back?  What would it take for me to dive in and remember what it is to lose myself in art?  How do I find myself there again, ready to discover what it is to be a painter at my age?

I have an unused set of oils in the attic.  I will bring them out and find a sunny corner to set up an easel.  Maybe I’ll paint with my eyes closed.  But I’ll paint.

My fingers are itchy, so I know this invitation is trustworthy.  I accept.

What about YOU?  What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue?


This post was catalzyed by the Trust30 Challenge, an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself.  The Challenge was inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings on self-reliance.  Join me, and use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future.

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  • Darcey July 26, 2011, 6:12 pm

    What have I been afraid to pursue? Writing one of my books. I can’t choose just one idea to run with; I envision multiple ways in which to approach my many stories, to realize them, to organize and present them…but find myself holding back.

    I’ve made outlines, I’ve written bits and pieces that get shoved in a pile, and scattered across my home and workspaces. I dream of writing. I wake up in the middle of the night wishing I could go to the coffee shop to write. It rains and I desire to leave everything in the world behind, just to curl up and think, put pen to paper, and speak my truth. I dream of visiting my family in Mexico, renting a cabana on the beach and writing for days on end. I go for a walk and the words flow, only I don’t take the time after the walk to capture them. I try to push my photography business forward, have massive amounts of pictures to edit…and I procrastinate by reading and thinking, and dreaming of writing.

    In the hustle and bustle of daily life I find I’m afraid to allow myself to focus on it…because there is x,y,z that should get done first. Because there are to many people around distracting me. Because writing won’t offer immediate financial compensation. Because others have told me that it is near impossible to make a living as a writer, and highly unlikely to become a published one. Because I’ll have to remember the pain that I usually shove down so deeply I can almost forget. Because I feel I just don’t have the time…and I’m afraid, perhaps of what the true reaction to my words will be. What will everyone say if they know my truths?

    And then I dream of it again….