This past weekend, my 6-year old niece was in town visiting for the holiday. We had a great time together, from blowing hundreds of bubbles in the backyard to taking a long walk and teaching her about all the flowers along the way. We even got to spend some time in the local park/playground where she got to try out her first tire swing. (She LOVED it, by the way. And truly, what’s not to love?)
Anyhow, we also did some arts and crafts together. On one such occasion, we painted side-by-side. It was a Disney item that provided its own paints, brush, and 2 pictures to lovingly adorn with color as you watched them come to life.
We laughed while we painted, sharing paint pots and even the brush. It was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend. The two of us sat in the garage at the small table, with the small chairs (my knees are still mad at me), and spent an hour or so chatting and painting princesses. Again, what’s not to love, right?
When we were done, my little niece looked at both paintings, turned to me very seriously and somewhat dejected, and said, “Yours is more beautiful than mine.”
Meanwhile, I was looking at the paintings and thinking ‘Wow, hers is so much brighter and more colorful.’
Of course, my response to her was “Neither is more beautiful than the other, they’re just different…and that’s awesome!”
And what’s important about that simple statement is the fact that it’s true. Beauty will always be subjective. I preferred her colors, she preferred my tidiness. We were both admiring each others work, feeling like ours could have been better.
The truth is, as I’ve said so many times before: Nobody wins in the comparison game.
Had the acknowledgment stopped at admiration, it could have been a spark for inspiration, creativity, and imagination. But when we take it beyond that point, into comparison, it becomes the birthplace of judgment, shame, and lack.
Both paintings were, indeed, beautiful. Both a wonderful expression of who we each are, as well as where we are in the chronology of our lives. Both paintings are happy, creative, expressive, and joyful.
Finally, it’s worth stating that what truly matters most out of the entire experience was the experience. The time spent together. The chatting, the laughing, the sharing. I’m sure the paintings will end up in the bin, but the memory of spending time together will stay with both of us for the rest of our lives. And that is the most beautiful thing I know.