Maddie lines up her crayons of many shades in the middle of the kitchen table. She works happily, filling in the outlines of the characters with beautiful rainbow colors. She sings. She stays in the lines. She proudly creates her lovely art.
Nico runs by and I try to interest him in coloring. “I can’t stay in the lines,” he tells me. With lots of fast talking, I finally convince him to sit at the table. He grabs a brown crayon and colors for all he’s worth — paying no attention to lines at all. “Okay.” Then he’s gone, moving on to other things.
I remember that evening years ago when I walked into my daughter’s room and told her to get her coat on so we could all go get some dinner. “I can’t go!” She cries and holds up her crayoned picture to show me. She’s colored outside the lines. One stray little blue mark is there for the world to see. She can’t forgive herself. She can’t fix it. Who can think of dinner at a time like this?
Some of us live to fill in the lines; some color outside without a worry.
Natasha Bedingfield said it this way in her song, Unwritten:
I break tradition, sometimes my tries are outside the lines.
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can’t live that way.
So how about you? I’m thinking we are born with a tendency either to take joy in following the lines or a tendency to set out to make our own. This is clearer in children, but if you look, you can find this in yourself and in the adults around you. In your family, friend group, co-workers, neighbors, you’ll find people of both types. Sometimes this helps me understand folks better.
So which is your tendency?
Me? As a kid I probably said, “Lines? What lines?” I’m sure I never had an art wall as beautiful as Maddie’s.
But I have no trouble understanding young Nico. And loving them both.