I drew a chair

“It’s not very good” came a voice from the past, picking up a paintbrush to correct chunky tree branches.

To make the painting better and not mine.

I am seven and painting is something other people are good at. I am good at this and you are good at that, but you must colour inside the lines to be loved, to be left alone.

Colours and light and shapes and shades, there is no secret to it.

Except practice makes perfect or something close.

But letting go of the perfect start is harder than anyone tells you.

I stand in a field. Blank page challenges, prompts, welcomes.

You just have to begin somewhere, anywhere, she says.

Put pencil to paper and make marks, and again

and again.


I was told that talent came from God, but nobody mentioned the work

The work, the toil, the trouble and the slog

to allow a splash of heaven onto the page.

That thing I’d like to do?

That is something other people are good at.

French. Stumbling over words, feeling eyes upon me. My classmates’ summers in France stick to my tongue and prevent the words from coming out. Never spoke in french to a real live french person before this teacher.

(in English then)

I’m finding it hard.

Hoping for hope, encouragement, or maybe a way out. She opens the door, gives in easily. I am wasting my time. She doesn’t wish to waste hers. Goodbye.

Agreed then, it is hopeless.

But I learn German instead, then some Spanish. I learn Thai at the back of an old shop over granola and yoghurt and fresh mango. All Irish people are good at speaking Thai (based on a sample size of one)

I learn the letters. I can ask prices and have a basic conversation.  In Burmese I can order tea, and I can write ‘teacher’.

I learn to meditate.

Learn that the work is the key. Choices are made. God does not exist.

So I draw a chair.

Not to have a perfect picture of a chair.

But to lose myself

and to prove myself

and to be better and wiser.

Choices are made

I make the choice to believe.

That thing I’d like to do?

That is something other people do.

And I am one of the other people.


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