She knew exactly what she was doing. And she knew it was wrong…but something inside of her couldn’t make her do the right thing.
Green and brown. The letter “T” for “turtle”. Instructions were given as she stared at the coloring page in front of her. “Use your green and brown crayons to color the turtle and then trace the upper and lower case T’s using your pencil.”
Green and brown. Green and brown. Green and brown. These words echoed in her head as she reached into the dark cold desk and pulled out the red crayon.
Dare she? What’s the worst thing that could happen? It was just a little color….
Ahhhh, there. Now her little box turtle had a red patch on his shell.
She no longer noticed the teacher sitting at her desk across the room as she replaced the red crayon for a blue crayon. The red box needed a neighbor and blue was the perfect choice. Somehow, deep inside of her, she knew this to be true. Red needs blue and blue needs red, for then they become purple!
You guessed it. Blue was slipped back into the desk for the chunky purple crayon. She peeled back the Crayola paper and filled in the whitespace outlined in black next to the red patch on the box turtle.
All the while, she could feel the excitement welling up inside of her little blonde haired blue-eyed soul. It was as if she was the only 5-year-old in the classroom. Nothing else mattered. She was creating a colorful masterpiece.
This process continued until she had the entire turtle colored Technicolor, explosion style! It satisfied her so much that she got out of her desk and walked up to her teacher’s desk to show her. She was so proud. Until….
She stuffed the folded piece of paper with a note written on it into her book bag. She couldn’t imagine why her teacher folded her masterpiece. And she had no idea what the words written in red on the back said. Her teacher’s instructions were to give it to her mom for her to read.
All the way home, she wondered what the words could possibly say. But, she couldn’t read yet, and the letters were all curvy. They weren’t printed like other letters they practiced each day.
She was so curious and couldn’t wait to share the picture with her parents. Maybe her teacher really liked her turtle, but she didn’t seem too happy about it when she folded it and wrote the note on it…
The next morning, she pulled the note out of her book bag. It was no longer a masterpiece. It was a note written in red curvy letters explaining that she had not followed directions and needed to learn to do what the teacher says.
She walked up to her teacher’s desk and handed it to her with an apology. “I’m sorry for not listening to your directions.”
But, deep inside, she wasn’t sorry. She was shamed. She was hurt. She was broken. She was changed. Soulfully so.
And, she had learned one thing very well. If you want to do well in school, in life, or in general, you have to do exactly what you are told and ignore the passion and creativity that wells up inside of you.
This is the only way to be successful in school. Once this lie weaved its way into her 5-year-old mind and soul, it grew vines and thorns and became a way of life.
All throughout school and college and graduate school, she did the right thing. Her box of 8 chunky crayons was traded in for a box of 264 crayons that took up space on a shelf in her office. She loved the splash of color it added to the room. But, she never used them…
Until she decided at 35 years old to write a children’s book. Writing is academic. It can’t be the wrong thing to do, she thought. She took a class in acrylics because she wanted to learn how to sketch and draw for her book. Not because she wanted to paint or draw, but because it would help her accomplish something else.
But you know what? That didn’t happen at all. It didn’t go quite like she had planned. She fell in love, and you know what they say about love, right? It consumes you. You constantly think about the person or thing you love. Her crayons came off the shelf. She dusted them off and used every color in the Technicolor rainbow.
The little 5-year-old girl who was also sitting on the shelf in the game of life, was given a second chance to do what she loves. And when she’s painting, nothing else matters. Hours pass by without her even noticing. They just seem to slip off the clock.
All along, God was helping her to become who she is now. It took 30 years for this little 5-year-old girl to break out the paint and crayons. And I don’t regret any of it. Not one thing I experienced in the 30 years before today. All of those experiences led me here. For that, I am very grateful for that 5-year-old little girl and her courage.
In those 3 decades, she never disappeared. There were glimpses of her all along the way.
The way she would pause and watch the sunset and clouds swirl. The way she would linger by the paint section at Lowe’s. The way she would always be attracted to those passionate artistic people she met along her journey. The way she would always use colored pens and markers instead of black ink. The way she would somehow mysteriously find every office supply store in town.
Yes. She never left. She was there all along. And now she gets to play with paint. All the time. And it feels just right. Almost perfect.
What is one thing you do that causes you to lose track of time?
What dream or desire inside of you is left undone?
What do you want to do about it?