Go Make the World Beautiful


Megan Gahan -Artist6

It was a simple photo: a lap filled with art supplies. Fat little tubes of glossy paints, stiff brushes, and a stark white palette, just waiting to be muddied up with imagination.

The picture lit up my phone with its cacophony of colour, and I had to restrain myself from turning cartwheels down the driveway.

The lap belonged to my younger sister. She was always the creative soul of the family. In high school, she wrote moody, bizarrely dark poetry. She took up the guitar, and I would listen to her string chords together for hours on the other side of the wall. She would sketch sometimes, heavy card stock always close by. She was a bit of a dreamer back then. Her brain expressed itself best through the lilt of a melody or the careful stroke of a pencil.

I, on the other hand, was no dreamer. My feet were tensely planted on the hard, rough earth. Anxiety ridden far beyond my years, I threw myself into academics, causing many a panic attack and tearful breakdown in my dogged pursuit of perfection. Creating anything for pleasure was completely foreign to me. And pointless. I played the notes on the page, I wrote exactly what the assignment called for. I excelled in writing, but never ventured far from the syllabus.

Oddly enough, the tables turned as we aged. Feeling trapped tending to my two littles, I began to write again. Only this time, it wasn’t for a grade. It was for myself. I wanted to know the little girl who made up stories and stayed up far too late with Matilda tucked under the covers. It felt so natural to create, to empty the twists and turns of my mind onto a waiting blank page.

About the time I started writing, my sister’s desk became piled with thick textbooks detailing the chemistry of drug reactions. That head-in-the-clouds, artsy teenager was covered with a stethoscope and a crisp lab coat. I was wildly proud of her. But I confess, I missed the angst-y teenager a bit.

And then, with one simple text, she was back. Less angst-y now. But still with so much to say. So much beauty to offer. So much light to gift this dark world with.

Today, another text from her. This one of a white canvas, with cotton candy coloured swoops all over it. “Practicing my petals …” reads the caption. I grin at the phone and furiously text back a slew of elated emojis.

I am a writer. I know words are what my inner artist wants to weave. And yet I would never call myself a writer. I just can’t shake the feeling that I need to earn my way there. I need to follow the syllabus. I need to get whatever the equivalent of an “A” would be. But I don’t hold my sister (or anyone else, come to think of it) to that standard at all. She just needs a lap full of art supplies and I’m like, “Of course you need to paint. You’re an artist. You’ve always been one. Go make the world beautiful!”

Maybe your inner artist loves to take photographs. Or sing opera. Or write dark and moody poetry. Or do calligraphy. Or bake elaborate cakes. Or overshare things about herself on the Internet. It doesn’t matter. But if you—like me— are beating yourself up for not having earned the title of artist, or creative, or photographer, or writer, or what-have-you, let this be your permission to stop the madness. Let this be our permission to stop the madness. If it’s holding you back, quieting your voice, dulling your colour, for the love, stop. We need your colour and your music. You were, quite literally, born to create.

So, go get some brushes or fondant or sheet music or a thick sketchpad. Today. This is important. Take a picture and send it to someone who will stand with you. Then put your art out there, into your tiny corner of existence. It will be scary as all to get out. Do it anyway. It will give life and hope and beauty to this world. And God knows we need all the life and hope and beauty we can get right now. There simply cannot be too much. There cannot be too much light.

You are an artist.

Go make the world beautiful.