Day 2: Ride the waterslide.

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“Waterslide” 4×4, oil on canvas

I was on a walk with my nine year old a week ago, thinking about the impending 31. “What’s some advice you would give someone?” I asked him. I was pretty sure he’d shrug but instead he immediately launched into a Ted Talk regarding the value of certain weapons in defeating certain villians in a certain video game I’m pretty sure is called Legend of Zelda. 

Pause. Regroup. Okay, but what about advice to someone who doesn’t play video games? Again, I thought he’d shrug, but he didn’t. Without hesitation he answered: “Ride the water slide. That’s my advice”. 

I was immediately brought back to our summer trip to the water park. He was afraid to ride almost all the slides and I knew, deeply and with complete certainty, that he would enjoy them if he just gave them a try. It is in my nature to micro-manage. I reach for control whenever it is available to me. But, for whatever reason, on that day, the little bird of peace I keep in my mind, called me to a higher nature. Let it be. Don’t push, it said. Lord knows, I didn’t want to spend the afternoon in a kiddie pool, but I surrendered to that very real possibility. 

I think it was on our seventeenth (who was counting really?) lap around the lazy river that he acquiesced to my gentle and still laissez-faire encouragement to ride one of the bigger slides. “We totally don’t have to but if you’re ready just let me know. It will be awesome either way.” I prepared myself to get to the top of the steps and have to walk back down. But we didn’t. We rode that slide in a double inner tube all the way down. He was scared. I could feel his little hand squeezing my leg and a tremor in his squeals. 

But after the fifth time, he loosened his grip, and the squeal was from sheer delight without any notes of dread. We rode other slides too. One, it turned out, was indeed too scary, and we didn’t get back in the line at all. 

So, yes, ride the waterslide! And let the need to control slide right off your back, letting that sweet, sweet summer heat just take it away. That’s the advice I heed when I’m at my best. 

Which brings me to day 2s painting session which wasn’t going great. I bopped around a bit from this canvas to that. Don’t force it, I thought, just ride the waterslide whether or not you feel great about it. Today’s painting is the third mini I worked on. Today’s painting is born from  “let it be” and “don’t force it;” it’s born of letting some of the other paintings go. The high contrast of the bird’s body proved my waterslide– but I went for it, and I’m glad that I did. Thanks, Ezra, for your stellar advice.

What good advice have you gotten lately? I’d love to know. 

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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

January 2, 2022

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  1. What a delightful story, Denise! I also loved hearing about Zelda, as the original was one of the very first RPGs for console. I’ve been hooked ever since.

    On a more serious note, I can very my relate to the overcoming your fears theme here. I quite literally needed to do that in Utah in November as I approached stunning scenes on decidedly scary looking cliffs.

    So my advice is from me rather than any I’ve received: definitely push yourself to overcome things holding you back but also recognize you may have limits, and that’s okay, too.

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