The Gift Comes From The Doing

The neighborhood’s dogwood trees have blossomed into ethereal white clouds beneath the new green and bronze leaves of the hardwood trees. Azaleas burst forth in torrents of pink, red and purple flowers. The wild hyacinth on the corner drapes the pine trees in lilac sheets. It’s spring!

The 50-year-old weeping cherry in my front yard is trying to cover itself in pink fluff one more time. She lost more branches this winter, and there’s a new section of deadwood that will have to be cut out. Each spring she manages fewer and fewer flowers, but sap still flows in her ancient bones. I’ll not desecrate her age and wisdom while life still comes forth, however feebly.

The daffodils that emerged in February are mostly gone, but the later double-flowered ones have survived the prematurely summer temperatures and still dance in the March breezes. And today, I am sketching daffodils again.

Daffodils are really much too complicated for me to draw, but I persist. Just as many of my harp and recorder pieces are too complicated for me to play. But I persist, be it one measure at a time on some days. “Breathe and move forward,” is what my teacher tells me, and so I do. Sage advice, for playing music, for drawing, for living a life.

I may never be able to draw all the beauty my eyes see. And I may never be able to play music as beautifully as I hear it in my mind and heart. But the process of trying, again, to put brush and pen to paper, to put my fingers on strings, makes my heart glad, makes my soul enter that timeless realm where there is just this moment and the beauty that I create there. These little sketches become another doorway to the place where time stops and being enters.

I hope that as I persist in drawing what I see, my skill improves, and my renderings become more and more an echo of my vision, just as I hope that as I persist in practicing harp and recorder, the music I play more and more resembles the music I hear inside me. But when immersed in the process of drawing, or playing, the results don’t matter – the gift comes from the doing.

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17 thoughts on “The Gift Comes From The Doing

  1. So nice of you to protect that priceless ancient tree who still gives its all. I have a nieghbor who plants and chops trees down left and right.

    I have just been thinking lately that I need to work more on my sketching and drawing as I am really horrible at it. I love to paint on large surfaces but I am terrible at perspective and don’t draw really well. I thought I should do some little piece every day no matter how small or awful. I can only get better if I try. And I have not been trying so from here forth I will. Can’t decide whether or not to document it or not.

    Playing the harp must be so magical. Seems as if it would be so much fun.

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    1. Something I picked up from Phillip Bradbury’s blog: “As I do it badly, I get better.” I used to think I could not draw at all, but by keeping at it, I now draw better than I ever thought I would be able to. Let me encourage you to start doing your little drawing every day.
      Playing harp is both magical and incredibly challenging – another place where as I do it badly I get better. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

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  2. Beautiful thoughts beautifully written! Barbara and I spent yesterday afternoon with Janice, and part of that time was a trip through Janice’s 94 year old mother’s absolutely gorgeous yard. She walked with us and told the story of all the plants and trees, and how they have done over the years. When she used the phrase, “ought to be dead, but refuses to die” as she told about some of the oldest treasures, I remembered your phrase, “I’ll not desecrate her age and wisdom while life still comes forth, however feebly.” I haven’t stopped counting the applications of this profound gift from your “pen”.
    Miss Irene’s philosophy is “Water it and wait a year. If it lives, water it some more.” Congratulations on your “waterings” over the last 7+ years!

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    1. I hope someday, someone says “ought to be dead, refuses to die” about me. I think Miss Irene’s philosophy speaks to more than just plants. If we take our ideas, our wishes and dreams, water them and wait a year, I think many of them would take root and grow, ready to be watered some more.

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  3. The true beauty in any artists renderings IS in the echo of YOUR vision. Be sure to keep writing on your list too, Janet – you are a talented! I am thrilled that your flowering cherry continues to shine every year under your loving protection. Oh, bye the way, my peonies are out of the ground about an inch and the snow drops have finally shown up. Yes, SPRING!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Cheryl! Sometimes the writing just works – I’ve learned to recognize how I feel when the good stuff is flowing, and I try to stop everything and get it down on paper while the channel is open. It never seems like I’m thinking it up; instead, it’s just flowing out of my pen. Grace in action. Glad spring is heading your way! What a marvelous season!. Janet

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  4. Dear Janet, You are a constant amazement to me in all you accomplish and your beautiful creative heart. I think of you often as an inspiration, especially when a play two of your compositions (Summer Lullabye and Fly Away), When I admire your photography, and now your sweet paintings. Now I discover you as a beautifully descriptive writer. I love your blog! I don’t know how you find the time to do all you accomplish, but my feeble excuses are fading as I write. Love, Suzanne

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    1. Thank you so much, Suzanne! I love being described as having a creative heart. But I can’t take credit for the two compositions that you are enjoying playing – my harp compositions are still awaiting inspiration for left hand accompaniments. It has to be another Janet who wrote them – Janet Lanier perhaps? My only secret is to do what I love first, and then the other stuff – I think there might be a new blog post with that idea! Thanks for letting me know how much you are enjoying my blog. Janet

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  5. Your daffodils are beautiful. 🙂

    I love how find so much joy in creating. There is so much truth in your philosophy – it isn’t so much what we create, but the fact that we are creating. 🙂

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    1. Thank you! It’s lovely when I like the end results of whatever creative endeavor I’m doing, but en-joy-ing the process is truly where the “joy” comes from.

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  6. Janet, I just love your “the gift comes from the doing”. Such a perfect way to look at life, and a perfect way to be present to the beauty. I think you see by being present and just doing without attachment to the outcome. Thank you for this insight.

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