Just over a year ago, I purchased Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards. This book seems to be the “go-to” book for a self-study in learning to draw. I completed some of the exercises and was encouraged by the results, but for a number of reasons, I put down the pencil, and shelved the book. Many times I had thoughts of revisiting, but the idea of starting over seemed tedious, and the book remained firmly planted on its shelf.
Cut to Christmas Day, 2011.
My dear friend, who was visiting from Australia, contravened a mutually agreed upon “no gifts” policy, and gave me a gift. She alleged that this was not actually a violation of the aforementioned agreement, as the gift had not been purchased. Rather it was “found” at a friend’s house. (I’m not certain this argument would hold up in court, but I let it slide, as given the scenario, I was unlikely to fare poorly.)
Having heard me regularly lament my frustrations regarding my inability to draw, and my desire to learn, and always supportive of opportunities for me to enrich my world, she had given me the “perfect gift.”
Save one minor detail.
I was delighted and touched by her thoughtful gift, yet in the same breath that I was thanking her for my new (used) copy of “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” I was simultaneously confessing to already having one in my possession.
Now, I’m not sure of the appropriate social etiquette in such a situation, and maybe it is my steadfast commitment to honesty, or the knowledge that I literally have no poker face, (one friend has declared me to be the friend with whom he would least want to commit a crime,) or perhaps, it was the small fact that the offending book was sitting on a shelf, at sight-line, directly across from where she was about to enjoy her Christmas dinner, but I had felt compelled to come clean.
Unfortunately, my admission palpably deflated the enthusiasm of the moment and I was saddened, and a little embarrassed to have facilitated its collapse.
The gift would be returned to her friend.
However, later that evening, as I was filled with gratitude for having such a wonderful human being always in my corner, a woman who knows me so well, that she can identify the perfect gift, whose kindness and support are perfect gifts unto themselves, I realized that what I wanted was to keep the copy she had given me, because even though the contents were identical, the one from her was special and important…for the simple reason that it was from her.
She understood. (Of course, she did.)
Copies were swapped.
And my new copy had new life. As it rested on my coffee table, and my desire to learn to draw became louder, and as I accepted that taking a class was not an immediate option, it begged to be reconsidered. And as I leafed through its pages, suddenly starting over no longer seemed tedious, but exciting and full of possibility.
And so…I have found my next steps.
And I have a plan.