Cover the canvas at the first go, then work at it until you see nothing more to add. Camille Pissarro
There is a certain terror that can arise when faced with a blank slate. It could be your life plan before you, or lack thereof, or a small, but very real work challenge. Perhaps it is the next chapter in the book you aspire to write, or the should or shouldn’t you quandary when facing the potential loss of a troubled relationship. Moments in the garden can illustrate the point rather succinctly when deciding where to place a particular plant or focal point. The painter will tell you the same thing when faced with the blank canvas waiting for the first brush stroke.
But there is also danger not starting at all. Inspiration can seem an illusive creature, but if we sit and wait for it to come we may be sorely disappointed by the deafening silence that tells us absolutely nothing about what to do next. The thing about that silence is that it conjures up all our doubts, doubts that taint our vision and suppress our hope. If we let them take over, it is the death knell for the full and creative life.
So often the best solution is to choose one simple act. It may be the background wash of the color orange on the white canvas, or repositioning a rose bush to a corner where it gets more sun and contrasts more beautifully with the purple cranesbill. It may be hugging the person you love and letting them know you care even if you can’t answer what tomorrow will bring.
Inspiration is discovered more from that first step than the long-awaited voice that will announce at some sublime moment : go this way. And so often that first step will tell us the next if we dare try. We may not have the complete vision of where we’ll land, but if we don’t start, as Pissarro suggests, to cover the canvas at the first go, we will never get to painting the picture at all.
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