In just a bit, I'm off to work on an art project with sixteen four year olds. Some of you may hear that and feel a little sick in the pit of your stomach. Don't feel that way, though. Read on. I encourage you to try something similar. (You can even try it with adults if you can find some willing and daring enough!)
I'm convinced - and there is nothing you can say or show me to change my mind - that we all arrive on this earth loving certain things. I believe we all begin our life loving a few things artful - dancing and singing and painting and creating. I can almost feel a few of you getting a bit nervous; you're thinking I'm about to suggest something crazy, something like how creative we all are, something outlandish. You're right!
Check out the nearest tiny person. Watch them. Listen to them. Ask them to dance and they will, regardless of the music choice. Ask them to sing, and they will sing out without worry about pitch or volume or tune. Give them some objects, anything really, and ask them to create something. They will and it will probably blow your mind. There will be a story with all sorts of detail and the child will probably have entered a new world by the time they begin to tell you about it all. Give the same child a stick and a patch of dirt and she will draw the most magnificent mansion. Give him a paintbrush, and you don't even have to give him any paints - he can create without it. He might use water on the side of the swimming pool and paint on the cement. It doesn't matter to a child; it's just fun to 'make something.'
You see, that's what is so refreshing about working with children. They don't have all of the crazy boundaries that we have built around our selves that tell us not to try. If he wants to sing, he does! If she wants to dance, she does! If they want to paint, they do and it doesn't matter what they paint. The process is fun, and they aren't painting for anyone else. They are painting because it feels good, because it makes them feel alive, because it is beautiful.
I'm looking forward to my art time with the kids. I bet when I give them the paintbrushes and show them the empty canvas, there won't be any hesitation. The only question will probably be, "where do you want me to start?" One of them will giggle while she's painting because she feels happy inside. One of them will probably sing because that's what he does when he feels excited and alive. A couple of them will probably just talk and talk, without any regard to whether or not anyone is listening. I'll probably be smiling most of the time.
Take a second and imagine all that we could do - you and I - if we didn't stop ourselves before we even began. Imagine how much fun it would be if we sang when we wanted to or danced around, without regard to what others thought. I know some of you may be bristling now. Don't though. Just take a second and think about trying something. Try something out of your ordinary - outside of your box. Try doing something that your three year old self did whenever she wanted. Try it!