“In the beginning . . .” – Genesis 1:1
A professional artist friend in describing his very first attempt at painting explained how with paints on pallet and brush in hand he gazed for the longest time at the blank canvas on the easel set before him. Where to begin, he pondered, at the edge or in the middle?
One does not have to be a neophyte painter to be faced with such a dilemma. Do we not wrestle with the same question every time we are challenged by some new or overwhelming endeavor? It is what Julia Cameron describes in her book The Artist’s Way, being “caught between the dream of action and the fear of failure”. Frankly, it happens to me every week in writing these messages. Even after all these years I still sometimes sit gazing at a blank page pondering where to begin. I know what I want to say (dream of action), but worry about how to say it (fear of failure).
I once asked my Dad, who painted throughout his lifetime, what he did when he made a mistake. He shrugged his shoulders, “simply paint over the mistake.” Funny, I never watched my Dad paint, and I don’t know where he began, at the edge or in the middle. What I do know is that he began somewhere – mistakes and all – otherwise he would never have produced all the beautiful artwork that now adorns the walls of our home.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep.” (Genesis 1:1-2) Imagine, God himself, like us, once gazed upon a blank canvas! Did he ponder where to begin? We don’t know for sure, except that he did (Day 1-light; Day 2-sky and oceans; Day 3-dry land; Day 4-sun, moon and stars; Day 5-birds and fish; Day 6-animals and man), otherwise he would never have created mankind, this magnificent universe, and all the life within it.
Where to begin? I do not recall whether my professional artist friend began at the edge or in the middle. What I do know is that he began somewhere with that first brush stroke, thus launching an amazingly successful career. And that’s where we all must begin when challenged by some new or overwhelming endeavor. Begin somewhere.