Mistakes Under the Maple Tree

In January 2020, my two daughters, my wife, and I planted a maple tree. We planted it because we thought it would bring us peace in the midst of fast living.

A week ago, as a family, we sat under the maple tree with our watercolors and paint brushes in order to paint together. The young maple tree captured our imaginations so we decided to use it as inspiration for our paintings.

Each in our own way spread out our supplies reflecting our uniqueness. Then we put our brushes into water, dipped the brush’s tip into the different colors of the water colors. While we painted, we talked and had some Luther Vandross music playing in the background.

The sun shone overhead. The breeze rustled the leaves of a larger tree from our neighbor’s yard which served as a canopy. A calm settled down upon us as our art took our attention away from our surrounding. Patterns, shapes, and vibrant colors began to dance about on each of our canvases. Various renditions of the maple tree arrived into the world through the brushes and paint. Our imaginations’ rays of light, textures, and edges gently blew through with our imperfect attempt to bring to canvas what each of us saw in real life.

After about 10 minutes, we were in the flow, nobody seemed to press. Our expressions glided through the paint brush naturally and with ease. We just put on the page the best art we could create and accepted whatever came out. 

This peaceful moment was wounded once a piercing shrill shot out of my youngest daughter’s mouth bursting our short lived bubble of calm.

“Uhhhhhh,” she shrieked, “I dropped some paint on my painting, UHHHHHH.”

Without looking up from her work, with a mother’s graceful touch, my wife, Amy, said to Lily in a sweet non judgmental tone, “That’s ok, sweetie. We all make mistakes when we do art. The fun part is to see how we can turn those mistakes into beauty.”

As if she hadn’t interrupted our calm, Lily went back to work putting Amy’s advice into practice. She painted and painted until she turned the glob of paint in an island in the middle of the sea. She learned the value of turning mistakes into opportunities to grow. Calm was restored.  

We grew from this experience. We learned a thing or two about mistakes under the maple tree that day. A glob of paint might fall in an unintended place from time to time but we can use that glob to create beauty and moments of growth. Our life is like the creative process, we take unintentional mistakes and make beautiful art out of them. 

Mistakes under the maple remind me of mistakes in everyday life. Beauty and effectiveness can come from a mistake if we open our imagination and determine to turn mistakes into beauty.

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