Beginner's Mind

For 2009, I enrolled in a watercolor class. Our first lesson was yesterday. I love the comfortable, right-brained philosophy of my new teacher, Lee. I appreciate this chance to be a beginner, to experience what it is to not know anything. This is the place where the beauty of creativity can bud forth.

So far, my work pretty much sucks.

Which means I sympathize with my writing students who are experimenting with words for the first time in their lives. It's not a comfortable feeling to have no idea what you're doing! As I made my first brushstrokes, a voice in my head said, "See! This is all uneven and bumpy. You chose the wrong colors, and you didn't use enough water. You are going to be very bad at this."

When one begins to write, or paint, or create in a new way, there's a tendency to evaluate too soon. Brain wants a forecast. Wants to "get on with it." I've had writers say, "Just tell me whether I have any talent or not, so I'll know whether I'm wasting my time." Our quick, grownup, impatient "expert" selves don't want to wait around for our slow, childlike, beginner selves to learn this new skill, to play and to experiment and take the long, long road that is true creating.

Thank goodness writing has taught me. And so I will suspend all judgements, labels, criticisms. Who knows? I may get the hang of it sooner or later. I'll let the beginner run the show, and send the impatient expert off to some other task. Ah, yes. She can help me do taxes.

Where are you trying to be the expert, when it would serve you best to approach the task as a beginner?


  1. thank you christi for coming back to the blog. i was dieing without your blogging cyber-support! hope you are well. and, by the way, i'm so glad that you took lee's class. isn't he great? this blog entry was just what i needed today. i struggle and agonize with the perfection of it, this writing thing, and am filled with anxiety and fear that i may never pull this story out of me, or rather, never let the slow beginner learn this process. it's like babies crawling, i guess. seems so easy to us, but so crucial for the developing person to learn the coordination of body and mind. your blog reminded me that i'm a baby (in the best sense) and that i must learn how to crawl. oh, the agony!!!

  2. Oh! And I saw your painting here and thought, "Look how great hers turned out!" before I got to the part where you said it sucks.

    Maybe I am not such a perfectionist after all. I think this painting thing is great!


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