Mar The Canvas

Dec 13, 2018 by Renee Linnell
As I struggle with my writing, wanting so badly to get what is inside of me out, to share my true voice and my authentic gift with the world, but feeling as if I simply can't start Book Number Two, the words just trust it, don’t judge it come up. And so does mar the canvas.
I watched a famous painter in the Grand Canyon begin a new painting. He held a rich palate of colors, oil paint, and turned to face the white canvas. Then he placed the palate down and picked up a lump of charcoal. With his right hand he quickly dragged the charcoal over the canvas, assaulting it, and creating an erratic black line. He put the charcoal down and turned to look at those of us watching. “Mar the canvas,” he said. “I learned long ago to mar the canvas. If I try to paint on a perfectly white canvas I cannot begin. I panic, I am too worried about how to start, that I will make a mistake. But, if I start off with an ugly black smudge, I have to go from there. The fear is gone.” He then proceeded to turn the ugly black smudge into one of the most beautiful oil paintings I have seen.

This reminds me of a surfer friend of mine, a man who lives on the North Shore of O'ahu and surfs huge waves. He told me when he paddles out in surf that scares him he always "throws himself over the falls" as soon as he gets to the lineup (this means he purposefully falls on the first wave as soon as he gets into position). "I get it over with," he told me. "That way I am not scared the whole time I'm out there." 
We are so afraid to start something new. Not sure where to begin. Worried we will make a mistake or, worse yet, that we will fail. So worried, in fact, and so unsure, that many of us never begin. What if we had only two weeks left to live? Would we do it? (Whatever “it” is?) Would we try? I think we should. I think I will. Starting today. Book Number Two begins. With crap. With sloppy writing that has no direction. A bad recollection of old stories. But, I will start today, have started today. And, “mar the canvas” helps me begin.