troublemakers

Running With Scissors: Take Risks, But Avoid Danger.

{Photo credit: Jim Wern}

{Photo credit: Jim Wern}

We have all heard the shout Don’t run with scissors in your hand!

Those words are every mother’s nightmare and every child’s quandary as to why they got yelled at.

A multitude of thoughts begin to run through the child’s head: What? I wasn’t going to hurt anyone. I had permission to use them. I was going to make a fort out of the big box. I was just having fun.

I have never seen a child running with scissors who was heading toward something malicious. It was always enthusiastic joy in creating something beautiful.

The truth is, all of the reasons any child ever had for running with scissors were valid, true, and good, so, if they were all good things, why is it so bad? Why do children get yelled at when they are doing something good?

There is a fine line between something worth risking and something worth avoiding. Playing with matches is bad, but learning to light a campfire is good. Both are dangerous. One is foolish, while the other is worth the risk.

We need to encourage our children to take risks, run without inhibitions, and play with innocent wonderment, but they should not perform these tasks at the expense of losing an eye or burning a hand. That is always the challenge.

From their first steps, we are trying to prevent harm while encouraging forward motion. Safety is important, but bumps and bruises are equally, if not more, important because they can often be a better teacher than we can.

Life is perilous, and as Westley said in Princess Bride, “Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

It is about journeying through the fire swamp, but knowing that equipping yourself with an understanding of the dangers, and then taking educated risks to make it to the other side, is paramount.

Art is risk. Art is dangerous. If we don’t have the courage to venture forth, then we miss the opportunity to see what art can do, what art can be, and how that art form can transform life with every stroke.

So how do we encourage the art of risk and the risk of art in ourselves and in our children? How do we prepare our children to reach for the stars while still instilling the desire to gracefully overcome obstacles? The inevitable will happen.

Falling is a crucial part of life, and it is what can often move us to build the strength to try harder and to gain the courage to risk bigger, so that we find the reward we thought was once beyond our reach.

Similar to children, we start small. As children learn to walk, they learn that falling is a natural part of life. If we never let them fall, they won’t know how to handle those failures when they’re older and bigger.

However, if we let a toddler fall, they will quickly learn that he or she needs to get up again. It’s that simple. Falling happens. We go on. It’s in the rising up again that we become strong.

Art is no different. Not every piece will be a masterpiece. Not every poem will strike a chord. Not every song will be a hit. Regardless of it all, we keep painting, writing, and singing.

Some songs will have an audience of one, but that one may be transformed forever. Some works of art will capture the heart of a nation, but some will only grace the wall of one kitchen alone.

We should create because we are creators, not because we need people to like what we do. We don’t learn to walk to make people like us. We learn to walk because it’s fun and we can go places faster.

We create to express ourselves and make the world a more beautiful place, even if only for ourselves.

I like it when people enjoy what I write, but I don’t just want to be liked. I have given many sermons. I don’t like it when, after the message, people tell me that they liked my message or that I did a good job.

What I would rather have them say is that they felt challenged or that I inspired them to make a change in their lives. I want my art to transform, not appease. If I am appeasing, then I am not risking.

Art is supposed to ruffle feathers and stir passion. It’s supposed to make the world a better place. It’s supposed to be innately rebellious.

My oldest daughter has been a good kid her whole life. She is now 26 and married. A few years back, after breaking up with her last boyfriend and before she reconnected with her now husband, she started spending time with the wrong guys.

My wife and I were both upset and worried about her choices. We always tease our kids and tell them to make good choices when they leave the house, and then laugh, but, secretly, we all want that for our children.

Anyway, she was hanging out with some questionable fellows, and, one day while she and I were having breakfast, she opened up about her choices. I told her I wasn’t worried. I said to her that this was her moment to test the waters.

Then, I told her that we raised her right, and regardless if she made some poor choices, they are not irreparable. Lastly, we loved her no matter what. She needed to risk a little and see what the world was like.

Eventually, she realized that the guys she was hanging with didn’t have the caliber of character that she was looking for in a man, so she moved on. She has a great guy now, but she needed to brave the storms to find the lighthouse.

Some of us learn the easy way, some of us learn the hard way. I would much rather have my children make a lot of little mistakes rather than a few huge ones. We need to encourage risk-taking.

We need to let our children fail and succeed in little ways and then in bigger ways. In art and in life, taking risks is what helps us grow.

I don’t want my kids running with scissors. It is dangerous, but I do want them to take risks.

One day, I went into my youngest daughter’s bedroom and found that she had written on her wall. My first response was to chastise her for ruining the paint, but I stopped and looked at it.

It was a quote from Dr. Who: “We are all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one.” How do you get mad at that? After all, it’s just paint. Needless to say, it is still on her wall today. Art and risk go hand in hand.

Let the art of risking be that which inspires our children, and take the risk of art to a whole new level.

A special thanks to Season Faulk for contributing to this article.

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JimWernJim Wern is a renaissance man in a modern world; a spiritual traveler, searching for vestiges of the divine in humanity and imparting seeds of hope in a desolate world. He is a husband, father, friend, mentor, creative, tech geek, amateur writer, photographer and chef. His ramblings can be found at his website. He lives in sunny Southern California with his beautiful wife of 31 years.

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