One of my favorite possessions is this book, Winston Churchill's Painting as a Pastime. Several years ago I decided to try painting. This was totally out of the blue, since I had never shown any talent in this regard at any point in my life. But I started, and tried both painting and drawing. I also discovered that Winston Churchill had taken up painting "late in life" (after forty--watch what you call "late in life," buster!) and had actually become quite accomplished. And this gifted man imparted his thoughts on the subject which became this slim little volume.
I found it absolutely inspiring. I still do.
So when I found out last week that George W. Bush had taken up painting, of course I thought of Churchill. And my admiration for President Bush grew.
You see, if you have never tried something at an age when you have no right be be trying something new, you can't imagine the nerve it takes. As a matter of fact, Churchill even said:
But if, on the contrary, you are inclined--late in life though it be--to reconnoitre a foreign sphere of limitless extent, then be persuaded that the first quality that is needed is Audacity...We must not be too ambitious. We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint-box. And for this Audacity is the only ticket.When I learned to paint, it was terrifying. I was unaccustomed to putting myself in front of other people in any way. So painting had to be intensely private. Lessons were pure torture. I really just wanted to be left alone with my paints and a canvas and an idea.
Think of what it takes to be the leader of the free world, as Churchill and Bush each were, accustomed to doing things very well, being in charge, and then doing something new that you most assuredly won't excel at right out of the box. I didn't have this problem so much (I'm not even the leader in my own home!) but you can only learn something new if you are willing to be bad for a little while.
|Not by a leader of the free world. Also the first time I've ever shown a painting to anyone outside my home.|
|Barney by George W. Bush, via Facebook.|
As for me, I haven't picked up a brush in a while. I have found several pastimes that require my entire attention and offer the mental break I seek sometimes. I think I am feeling inspired, though, and may haul the paints out. And I think I'll re-read Churchill's words of wisdom again, too.
And I'll offer a tiny bit of food for thought: Churchill and Bush thought that acquiring new interests wasn't just desirable but necessary throughout their lifetimes. Why shouldn't you give something new a try, too? What would it be?