Painting the canvas of life is simply to create the life you want for yourself. You use your gifts , talents and strength of character to build what you want. What matters most is that at the end of your life you have completed what was your own to do and influenced others around you to build a better world. Like the successful professional artist, painting on the canvas of your life demands a lot from you. You create to express beauty and significance in your life depending on your imagination and what you know at that moment in time.
As children,our parents nurture and care for us; teaching us the knowledge and skills that we need to grow and develop into independent and self-sufficient adults. The formal education enables us to become useful to ourselves and the communities we live in.
Generally, by the age of twenty we have developed the sense of responsibility to decide to be ourselves and a plan to achieve our biggest dream in life. We develop a vision for our lives and commit to fulfill that vision.
All of us are at different stages on our journeys and the psychologist agree on the most important characteristic traits we need to complete painting the canvas of our lives.
• Passion- the fuel that drives your desire to create, to paint the canvas the colours of your choice. Without passion you cannot get satisfaction out of what you do with yourself.
• Persistence- to start and finish what you choose to do, learn new skills to improve yourself and sustain you through over the course of a lifetime.
• Patience- painting the canvas of life takes a lifetime. It requires barrels of patience to take you through the twists and turns of such a journey. There is no guarantee that it will turn out as you planned. Patience and persistence are together fuelled by passion.
• A Sense of Adventure- life itself is an adventure, loving life and having a spirit of adventure allows you to explore new things and to be willing to follow the direction in which the wind blows you.
• Discipline- You need it to start the painting and follow it through. Each morning you have to wake up determined to put one foot in front of the other over the course of a lifetime. This is the only way you can finish painting the canvas and have something to show for having lived in your time and made a difference.
It is never lost on me that little by little, I get the work done.
As a senior citizen I can look back at my life and share with you on how I have fared so far.
Between the ages of 20-30, I started claiming my own power; I learned to depend on myself while gradually taking on life’s challenges and responsibilities.
30-40- it was essential that I honed my craft and this drove me to push the boundaries. I recognized that what I loved worked its way into what I was creating. It was thrilling to take simple things like two people in love and turn them into something strikingly beautiful – marriage. It increased my willingness to try new things. Through trial and error, I got it right.
40+-It dawned on me that half of my life was over so I no longer had all the time in the world. I looked closely at my life and saw the need to make some important changes. I had to listen to my inner voice , reduce my circle of friends and choose to belong to something bigger than myself if I were to be more effective in life. I became an active member of my community. I was creating a new identity for myself during this mid-life period. I needed to discover and express my true Self at a deeper level. At the same time, I was still clinging on the big dreams for my life.
I needed to stay motivated and to persevere to achieve my big dreams. I needed to become better and better; there was no room for complacency. Through the challenges and struggles that life had thrown at me, I had come to realize that I was not the master of my destiny but instead I needed to acquire more knowledge to help me understand myself and what I really wanted in life.
By my sixtieth birthday, I had been there , I had done that and yet I did not feel complete and whole. The urge to express my authenticity and uniqueness other than follow the predetermined roles of culture and society had become more pronounced. There was no going back on the recreation of my life: my life my own. I was fully awakened and ready to take the responsibility for being true to myself. I had more to gain than to lose by being my true self.
Oscar Levant(1906-1972) an American pianist said: “It’s not what you are, it’s what you don’t become that hurts.’’
I tapped into the fullness of my capacities, the good and the bad. This was the time when my heart, mind and soul worked in unison to influence the direction of my life. To my amazement, at that moment in time, I reached the highest level of mastery. The psychologists tell us that when we create from our hearts ,minds and souls, we create things that are true and beautiful. This is what makes it possible for any individual to have spiritual depth and to be successful in life, work and love.
For where I am at this moment in time, I am both mature and humble enough to take full responsibility for what I create and be held accountable for it. I can even stand back to admire and take pride in what I have created. The older I grow, the more I understand that painting is a lifetime responsibility and as long both my heart and belly are not full, I cannot hang up my painting brushes.
With hindsight, I am happy to have created my own life. I recognize that there were moments when I never painted, other times I created masterpieces beyond my own imagination and other times I have had to improve on the colours. I now prefer to use vibrant and brilliant colours when painting.
The greatest lesson that I have learned so far is that: little by little, doing what seems right and authentic, I grow into what I was meant to be. The responsibility to remain useful to my community urges me to share my wealth of knowledge and experiences with those around me.
Robert John Meechan said : “ Your life as a teacher begins the day you realize that you are always a learner.’’
Since learning is a lifetime job then we are all naturally lifelong teachers.
QUESTION: While painting the canvas of your life, how often do you remember that you have all the colours of the rainbow to choose from?