So, over the course of a few nights, I drew this doodly cat portrait in my sketchbook. Each day, I posted the previous night’s progress on Facebook.
When I finished, someone commented that before this, they’d thought I simply doodled, and the shape of things magically came into being. She was a little disappointed to see that I penciled in guidelines first. She was sweet about it. She didn’t say I was cheating, but there was a hint of that in her disappointment.
Back when I was doing my meditation doodles, a similar thing happened. The meditation doodles are made up of intricate mandala-style drawings, and at some point I mentioned using a compass to draw the circles. I got a comment from someone saying that they didn’t know they could use a compass. They’d assumed that would be cheating.
This week, on the radio, I was listening to a discussion about audio books, during which the host of the program read comments sent in by listeners. After a string of comments extolling the virtues of audio books, someone wrote that they “hated audio books,” because listening to a book (as opposed to reading it) felt like cheating.
So here’s what I want to say about all this:
Seriously, people, cheating?
It’s cheating if you copy someone else’s answers onto your paper. It’s cheating if you don’t pay your taxes. It’s cheating if you have an affair, tuck the Ace up your sleeve, or keep the extra change when a cashier makes a mistake in your favor.
If, when you’re making art, or meditating, or reading a book (or in any other way exploring the fraught and glorious edges of you), it crosses your mind that you’re in some way cheating, just stop.
Take a breath.
Hear my voice in your head.
This is what I’ll be saying…
You can’t cheat at this. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Relax, have fun, stretch yourself. This is how evolution works.
p.s. I love you.