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Paint Your World As YOU Want It November 20, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Happiness, Spirit & Ego.
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Three young boys arrived at school one morning.  The teacher greeted them by saying, “Today, we’re going to Paint!”

The first child, Allen, arrogantly replied, “I’m an excellent painter!  My painting will be the best painting you’ve ever seen.  I’m the best painter in the class.”

The second child, Bernie, bashfully replied, “I can’t paint very well.  Do I have to paint?  I’d rather read a book.”

The teacher smiled, “Just paint from the heart, and I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

The third child, Calvin, cheerfully replied, “I love painting!  It’s such fun.  What are we going to paint?”

The teacher smiled, “You’re going to paint your world the way you want it.”

Allen sat down and considered his audience, as he contemplated which painting would bring in the most applause.

Bernie sat down, paralyzed at the thought of others evaluating his efforts and laughing at him.

Calvin sat down to consider what he wanted HIS world to look like, confident he could capture its essence.

As the teacher circulated, Allen used painstaking and controlled brush strokes to create a world designed to evoke the envy of others.  He used socially acceptable colors and themes to create a world that others would want to inhabit.   

Bernie stared at the blank canvas in front of him, fists clenched, wondering how to overcome his fear of failure.

Calvin reviewed the palette of colors and became immersed in his efforts, oblivious to what everyone else was painting.

Allen looked over at Calvin’s painting and thought, “What a joke.  Calvin’s painting looks terrible.  It’s just a bunch of squiggly lines.  My painting is much better than HIS.”  He returned his attention to painting, anxious to finish so he could show it to the teacher.

Bernie waited until the teacher wasn’t looking.  He quickly traced a farm scene off the cover of a book, omitting the cow (even though he loved cows) because it would have taken too long to paint.  Then, using the colors from the book’s cover, he painted the barn, the tractor and a few pink pigs without enthusiasm.

Calvin continued to focus solely on the next color, the next, the next, creating a unique painting all his own.

As Allen finished his painting, he eagerly called out to the teacher, “I’m done.  Come see MY painting!  It’s PERFECT.” 

The teacher looked at the technically correct painting and agreed that it was a beautiful world.  Allen absorbed her approval and basked in her praise. 

He didn’t care about the painting, or how painting it made HIM feel . . . he just wanted others to applaud his efforts.  Painting the picture had just been a means to the end.   

Bernie finished the last pig, and said, “I’m done.  It’s not very good.  I wanted to include a cow, but I don’t know how to paint a cow . . . so I left it out.”

The teacher admired the colors Bernie had used in his painting.  Bernie didn’t hear her.  He was mad at himself for not including a cow.  

Looking at the painting brought him no joy, because he’d left out the most important thing.

Calvin continued to paint with joyful abandon, paying no attention to his surroundings.  The teacher interrupted him, “Are you almost done, Calvin?”

Calvin looked up at her and blinked in surprise.  He had been so absorbed in the journey of painting that he had forgotten where he was. 

He looked at the painting in front of him and smiled.  He loved it.  Without knowing or caring what the teacher thought, he loved it.

“Yes.  I’m done.”

The teacher looked at it from every angle, unable to discern what Calvin had painted. 

Confused, she asked, “Calvin, did you understand the assignment?  I asked  you to paint your world the way you wanted it.”

Calvin smiled at her and back down at his painting, “I loved the assignment.  Thanks for letting us paint today.”

The teacher frowned, “Did you see what Allen painted?  He painted a schoolyard and an apple tree and children playing in the schoolyard.”

Calvin looked over at Allen’s painting, “That’s a good painting, Allen.”

Allen sneered at Calvin’s work, “I know.  I’m an excellent painter.”

The teacher looked back at Calvin’s painting, unable to decipher the intent behind the myriad of pink, purple, and turquoise swirls.  Hoping to gently let Calvin know that he had missed the point of the assignment, she said, “Look at Bernie’s painting.  He painted a barnyard and tractors and pigs . . . ”

Calvin looked over at Bernie’s painting, and smiled, “Bernie, that’s a good painting.  I bet those pigs like living there.”

Bernie, still frowning about how he had botched the exercise, looked up in surprise and then took another look at his painting.  He considered the pigs and thought, “I bet they do like living there.” 

He smiled back at Calvin and said, “Thanks.”

The teacher returned her attention to Calvin’s painting, still clueless, “Calvin, I’m afraid you’re going to have to tell me about your painting.  What is it?”

Calvin beamed at his painting, and then up at the teacher, “It’s happiness.”


“Yes, it’s the happiness that filled my world as I painted today.”

Related posts:  Embrace Your Inner Calvin *  A Study Of Contrasts

Artwork by Carole A. V. Dougherty ~ available at Island Gallery West