No Experience Necessary:  Part 1 -- Freedom

People often tell me that they’d like to have a garden but aren’t quite sure where to begin. I get that – before I got started, I read a number of books aimed squarely at beginner gardeners, yet still felt overwhelmed with all of the information and advice the experts had to dish out.

But I think there are lots of reasons why you should enjoy being a beginner gardener and plunge right in.

First, as odd as it may sound, being a beginner in anything can be a really liberating experience. Years ago, I decided to take up oil painting as a hobby. Most people start with the basics – drawing in charcoal, etc. Not me. I love color and a challenge, so oil painting it was.

When I walked into my first class, I was immediately disoriented. Somehow, despite this being billed as a class for beginners, only a few of us seemed to be completely lost. We bunched around the instructor while everyone else broke out their brushes and picked out the best locations for their easels. I had a sinking feeling that I was in over my head. (No surprise to my mom, of course — who still remembers me wanting to make paper mache marionettes in third grade when everyone else was making puppets out of paper bags.)

My first painting proved I was right. The model was beautiful – just not on my canvas. Poor thing – I’m sure she was distressed to see herself all out of proportion and in desperate need of some time in the tanning booth. It was really discouraging, and I thought about giving up right then and there.

Model w Duct Tape

Then it hit me. I already had a day job! I didn’t need to be good at this! I could paint whatever I wanted (or was able) to, and the Republic would be safe. As long as I enjoyed the creative process, who cared what the end result looked like? And I was bound to get better – there really was no place to go but up.

That first painting has been followed by many others. I’ve been happy with some and not with others. But I’ve learned from them all. And if I ever get frustrated, I think about that first effort and smile. Sometimes, giving yourself permission to fail is the biggest success of all.

Painting has been duct-taped to protect the model and any unsuspecting youngsters.


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