If you’re an artist, you may remember the kids in grade school marveling over one of your drawings. This is big stuff! When someone looks at what you’ve done… and gasps in excitement, you know you are somehow onto something.
I experienced my first brush with magic in second grade. The teacher asked us all what we did for fun last summer. I, myself had experienced my first Carnival. Not the big one in Rio, the small one in Oregon with the air hanging thick with the smell of spun sugar and waffle cones mixed with cigarette smoke from overly tattooed Carnies, and the super loud music and flashing lights coming from noisy, chaotic rides.
I grabbed the nearest crayon (red) and drew all the rides I could remember. The next day, when our teacher handed our assignments back to us, she said, “Congratulations! You’ve won second place!” There was a shiny red ribbon attached to my paper which clearly read SECOND PLACE.
This was somewhat exciting (although I had no idea what a “second place” even was). But not near as life changing as the words that came next:
“You’re quite the artist.”
Something registered inside me at that moment.
When I got home and shared the good news with Mom & Dad, they both said, almost in unison, “Well! You’re quite the artist!”
There it was a again.
It was a credential. It was a possible profession. It was a proclamation of my talent and I swallowed it hook, line and sinker! I believed them.
I spent a lot of time that night on my way to sleep thinking about the new turn of events. Mostly I remembered the look on my teacher’s and my parent’s faces. It was a look of astonishment and surprise. It was a look of deep interest. And these were adults! I saw something rare, I saw the unmistakable look of curiosity, awe, and wonder in their eyes. I really hadn’t seen that very often in the eyes of adults.
And so there grew in me a seed. Not just the one that would produce an artist, but one that made me desire, on the deepest level, to make them marvel.
Now my first question for any project I begin is “Will it make them marvel?”
Will I see that look in someone’s eyes again?
It may sound like I am talking about approval seeking behavior. There could conceivably be a parallel drawn between what I’m talking about here and approval seeking. But I can assure you I am not seeking approval, I’m seeking the evidence of magic. I’m seeking the immortal sign of wonder and curiosity again and again with each project I birth. It is such a strong force in me that it is nearly all I can concentrate on as I ready myself for the next piece.
I want to encourage you to do the same, no matter what your medium (auto repair, hair styling, accounting, or art-making)… just ask yourself,
“Will it make them marvel?”