The Importance of Doing Things Badly

Please look at the ridiculous painting above and the generally useless one below. This, Darling, is what it means to start something new. This is what ‘I think I will try…’ looks like. It’s not pretty. It’s not what one would normally show to others but it is a necessary and unavoidable step in getting from wretched to capable.

Let us now praise the results of your efforts to be creative: boats that sink, candles that won’t stay lit, earrings that trigger infections, skin cream that produce rashes, casseroles that cause projectile vomiting and singing that set dogs to howling.

Darling, we must celebrate what inevitably happens on the way from novice to expert: broken pieces in the kiln, hours holding ice packs to aching body parts, quiches that set off the fire alarm, seeds that don’t sprout and macramé plant holders that fail in the middle night.

May we rejoice in uninhabited birdhouses, dead ficuses, lop-sided cakes, tangled wool and unpublished poems.

Embrace erasing so much you tear a hole in the paper, taking 128 bad photos of the same building, looking in vain for the missing puzzle piece, cutting the wood 1 inch too short, exploding beer bottles, choosing the wrong paint color, being asked ‘what is that?’ and crying on your sofa.

You try. You fail. You try again. And it all goes wrong, but onward you persevere. Do you have any idea how many times the Nature Conservatory (not to mention the National Arboretum and Kew Gardens) have tried to stop me from painting trees? The Fondation Monet is after me to stop painting flowers. The Audubon Society is trying to get a restraining order to forbid me from painting birds. The Louvre, Prado, Met, Uffizi and National Gallery have forbidden me entrance in hopes of stymying my artistic attempts. Do I care? Hah! I have taken to ordering paints and brushes under assumed names to foil to the haters.

And foil the haters you must. Ignore those carping bastards. Gently stir in the yeast hoping for the best but expect something that even staving sparrows will turn up their beaks at. You’re just starting out and it’s going to take awhile. The perm will be too frizzy, the hair color too brassy, you’ll cut the nails too short and give them the wrong shape. And the eyebrows. Sigh. They will grow back. And you will get better. Yes, yes, you have ruined 24 skateboards, 3 surfboards, 8 pairs of climbing shoes, 6 pairs of skis and an entire Olympic-sized swimming pool. Well, at least no one died.

So your cake exploded in the oven, you knitted socks too small for any human (much less wombat), your drama is unreadable, your bath salts permanently stained the tub and your potpourri smells so horrible people spontaneously burst into tears. After eating one of your pâtés, guests ask for pen and paper to write their last will and testament. When gifted with one of your charming mugs, your neighbors move out of state.

Courage, Darling, always courage.

There’s always tomorrow. And witness protections programs.

bird 2