I sit there, silent, in a staring contest with the piece of paper on my desk. Six little crayons protrude from my fist like claws. My eyes let the paper fall in and out of focus as I waste time. I am utterly exasperated. My pre-school teacher ambles over to me, the idle one among a litter of ardent three-year-olds attacking their papers with color. She says, "Color your picture, Sarah" in a tone that implies her puzzlement that I have not done so yet.
"I don't know what to do," I reply, still glaring at the paper. I doubt she understands how hopeless it is: that sad little slice of tree displayed on the Formica tabletop. She blinks. She looks at the paper, then back at me.
Leaning in really close, she whispers, "The lines and shapes are already there. All you have to so is color them in and make them beautiful." She shoots me an encouraging smile before wandering away. I pick up the coloring book page and flip it over, blank side up, as a final act of resignation.
And that's when the magic happens.
I look at that blank side, and suddenly see the paper as a thing of potential.
This crazy stage we call life is just like that. When faced with real life, we all feel like a three-year-old evaluating how to tackle our challenge, our minds full of doubt, our hearts full of stubbornness, our mouths spewing skepticism. We're so occupied with this that we don't even see how obvious a solution is, or how immense an impact one simple change in perception could make.
So we have this challenge, this life. And as we face it, our minds go blank and we can't contemplate how we can possibly make anything of it, let alone anything spectacular. However, we have to remember those crayons protruding from our fist. Those crayons are our gifts and our talents! There are so many of them, all different kinds, given to us to use as we please. With them, we can create beauty. It can be anything we want, and we can use any of our gifts and talents to make it happen.
There are lines ... like the page of a coloring book. Praise and thanks for lines! We, in our lives, are given boundaries. They are what keep us on track when we are first learning how to use our gifts. Without them, we would scribble all over, making a horrible mess instead of a spectacular creation. How frustrating it is at first, when it seems that no matter how hard we try, we cross the lines, and things get mixed in with things they should not be with. There is beauty in it, however, and that is the learning process that will eventually lead to something magnificent.
Eventually there will come a point when the lines just don't suit our expanding hopes and plans anymore. We will once again be puzzled as we stare at the lines and blank spaces, attempting to decipher exactly what to make of it. That is when that magic happens and we turn over the page. There it is! It is spectacularly blank! This is thrilling because we can make our own lines and our own marks using our gifts. That is life! We have everything we need to get by carefully plotted out for us. All we have to do is utilize our blessings and make it beautiful.
Look for the things in your life that must be recognized to make it beautiful. It is that precious discovery that really matters. And if you read this, get nothing out of it, and can see no potential for inspiration ... turn the page over.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.