Chris Padilla/Blog / Notes

Nurturing Curiosity

There are a few why's behind my recent drawing habit. Here are a few:

Each of those points deserve a post for another day!

One of my biggest drivers, though:

I draw for my kids

I don't have any yet! Miranda and I haven't even tied the knot yet. But that is what's in mind as I'm exploring a new medium.

I'm aiming to embody a few things:

  • Leading with Curiosity
  • Creation driving learning
  • Expanding dreams

A tall order for just messing around with a pencil. It's goofy, it's silly, I don't have chops, and it's one of the most important things I do everyday - along with music, software, and even blogging!

While I love arts and music education, it can fall short in these areas. Teaching to a curriculum squashes curiosity. Personal creation is an afterthought in band classrooms. And, by trading personal creativity and curiosity for curriculum, personal dreams are tossed.

That's not the case with all programs. But, as a parent, there's no one better to model the things that I believe are most important in art and music than, well, the parents.

Leading with Curiosity

We're hard wired to be curious about the world we live in. There's wonder and awe around every corner.

How often, though, are we limited by identity, fear of wasting time, or are simply too distracted?

Drawing was one of those things for me. "I can never do that!," "I'm a musician, not an artist," and "I won't ever be any good" were all limiting stories. But I loved it all the same and wanted to explore that love.

Maybe my kids won't feel the same about drawing. (Kids, generally, don't have that baggage.) As they continue to grow, though, I want to be someone who can firmly model following a thread of curiosity, even at the risk of looking amateur.

Creation Driving Learning

We're also all naturally creative. If you've ever uttered the phrase "I don't have a creative bone in my body," you're probably only thinking of a limited spectrum of creativity. Sure, drawing a picture is creative. But so is software. And so is marketing. And so is teaching. And so are spreadsheets. So is cooking.

We've all got it! It can be easy to shy away from it in new territory, though! The same limiting stories from above come in and can discourage.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned through drawing, piano, guitar, and writing music is this: You don't have to be good for it to be enjoyable. Being some level of competent helps with flow. But, before that, the process of gaining new skills easily replaces the pleasure of being in flow! My favorite sessions playing piano have been those where I'm absolutely stumbling through a new tune, but I'm getting to explore new chords, melodies, and the configuration of my hands at the keys. I'm reminding myself that every time I draw, and want that to be a driver in what ever my kids get hooked on.

Maybe you're worried about friends and colleagues seeing what you make and embarrassing yourself. Wonderful news - the people that actually matter, typically, are more concerned with the spirit rather than the form. A loose drawing of a friend is probably more endearing than a commissioned oil painting, because it captures the spirit of the maker.

With my kiddos, I want them to feel confident in their ability to bring something new into the world, even if it's with tools they're not as familiar with.

Expanding Dreams

Like I said — maybe my kids will think drawing is for lame Dads. But that's not the point in the long term.

At some point as we grow up, dreams of becoming astronauts evaporate into realistic plans of becoming an english teacher. In some ways, that's all fine and well. Rubber has to meet the road at some point.

Art, music, storytelling, acting - pretty much any creative craft, though, brings dreams to reality right away at a young age. My 7 year old son may not be able to practice being an astronaut at that age, but if he loves drawing, he can practice art and grow up learning to be a real artist with real craft.

That early seed of making a dream real sets the stage for a lifetime of confidence in their own ability to do just that with even more vision.

Once a given dream is realized, then there's what's next. Probably you've been fortunate enough to experience that - "I finally got my dream job!! what? Is this it?"

No, I may not raise the next Aaron Blaise, but that's not at all the point. What ever it is, if I can be a model and help my children pursue and realize their dreams at a young age, that's a gift that will compound over their lives. Because their dreams will grow. "Being a cartoonist" evolves into "being an art teacher" evolves into "working in fundraising" evolves into "creating an arts education non-profit that serves their local community" - or any number of alternate paths.

By modeling that in my own life - by allowing even my tiniest seeds of my personal dreams to draw, to play instruments, make music, develop software, write essays, and serve people - I stand in a good position to help nurture what ever that looks like in the lives of my children.