This I Believe

Jamie - Ortonville, Michigan
Entered on November 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: humanism

Staying Inside the Lines

By: Jamie Drayton

My belief is something everyone has done. It’s not life changing or life saving. It’s not necessary and it’s not complex. What my belief is, is something that shapes people, it generates values and inspires creativity. My belief takes everyone back to when they were a young child, learning the twists and turns of life. My belief is something I find essential in the growing up process. I believe in coloring.

That’s right, my belief is taking a piece of colored wax and smearing it on a piece of paper. To most this is viewed as a simple childhood activity. However, if you look behind the colors, you can see what’s really is being created.

I realized this one day while I was babysitting my best friend’s niece and nephew, who were age six and four. I asked them what they wanted to do, maybe go outside and play or go get their toys out. No, there was only one thing they wanted to do, and that was color. Being an 18 year old boy, I was not so much into coloring anymore, but due to their demands I gave in. Next thing you know they were into their bedrooms and back out with a stack of about 20 coloring books. They began to get out all their supplies, and also began begging me to color along with them. They were relentless in their efforts to get me to color, and once again I gave in.

As we began to color I could see definite differences in all three of our drawings. My coloring was organized and well thought out. It had the right colors in the right places, and was perfectly situated inside the lines. Kapriece, the older of the two kids, had a much different drawing. She was trying hard to stay inside the lines, but somehow it just wasn’t happening. The colors were close to what she intended to draw, but to her it was a masterpiece. Naithan, the youngest, had drawn something completely unrecognizable to me. It was lines and colors, and to me it was an all out mess. He had, in fact, colored something completely different than was outlined on the page. That was what worked for him, and he was happy with it.

I noticed through this experience that coloring can teach us so much about life. It’s a common activity that people of all ages can explore. It brought together me, being an 18 year old boy, and a six year old girl, who other than that have very little in common. It also teaches lessons, such as staying in the lines. The older I grow the more lines I have to stay inside. When I was young the lines didn’t matter. I saw the lines and I knew they were there for a reason, but staying inside them was not required. Now as I grow older I realize I do have to stay inside the lines because if I go outside them just once I could ruin the entire picture.

I still have those pictures that Naithan and Kapriece colored for me. I look at them now and then, and they never fail to put a smile on my face. How simple it is that these colorful pieces of paper can light up my day just by looking at them. I realize it’s the simple things in life that can make or break how a day is going for me. These colorings would be nothing special for most people. But for me, it reminds me of what it’s like to be a child, with no rules or lines to stay in. They remind me to relax and forget about the rules every once in awhile, and feel the freedom that the kids felt while they were coloring those pictures.

Without coloring everything would be in black and white. There would be no color to light up the world. My belief is the simplest of all arts. It may not change anyone’s life or make people view the world differently, but the belief is just as strong. Through a crayon, marker, and other utensil of choice a world of freedom and creativity can ignite. It’s simple, yet sophisticated and all the while it can teach so much about life. It’s coloring, and it’s my belief.