Reaching for the Purple Crayon

An Attempt to Color My World

An Attempt to Color My World

The mind fits the world and shapes it as a river fits and shapes its own banks.

Annie Dillard, Living By Fiction

With these words, I drifted off to sleep around 1:00 this morning, knowing I would have only four hours of less-than-quality sleep. Nevertheless, when I rose at 5:00, I had Annie’s words still in my heart, and reached for a children’s book that I did not discover until only a few years ago: Harold and the Purple Crayon. I felt my pulse quicken as I re-read the text of this young lad creating his own environment, and I then determined that this would be an artful day. I would go forth and color my own world. I have a great job, I believe in what I do, and a wonderful perk of teaching is the daily invitation to create quality in life as you pass in and out of the classroom.

Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself. I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks. . . . The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

By 6:00, I was seated in the back of my darkened classroom, delighted with the cold, wet winter pre-dawn, and reminded that two winters ago I sat in this same place at the same hour and read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Stirred by the remembrance of Hemingway’s cold mornings spent in the rooftop Parisian apartment where he worked at perfecting his craft, I went to work on the first draft for this daily blog.

Once the students arrived around 7:30, the work day began, and it was a quality one for me. In A. P. Art History we looked at the Dutch and Flemish Baroque, focusing on Rembrandt and Rubens, then in Regular Art History we resumed our study of Leonardo da Vinci. I continued to draw new ideas concerning these creative spirits, not only from my own studies but also by well-placed queries from my engaging students. Together we worked at coloring this day.

Tonight was Open House. On a forty-degree rainy winter’s night, I knew not to anticipate large crowds. Three parents arrived to chat with me during the first ten minutes of the hour-long session, and that was that. Seated at my podium, I took out my draft of this blog and continued to push it along. Reflecting over a day that held plenty of creative surprises, I mused over all the people I’ve met throughout my life who hate their jobs, their daily routines. As for me, there have been some low moments over my twenty-six-year tenure as a teacher, but I can overwhelmingly testify that it has yielded a life overflowing with reward and daily creative opportunity.

Open House Night

Open House Night

Joseph Heller, author of Catch 22, began working on his second novel that would be titled Something Happened. After working on it for ten years, he had yet to finish and publish the novel, and in an interview, all he could say of the work was: “I’m about two hundred pages in, and it’s about this guy–but I don’t know much about him–I know he has a job, but I don’t know what it is, or what he does. He has this family, but I don’t really know who they are or where they live, I don’t even know his name. He just goes to work and he comes home, and that’s about all.” That interview prompted me to purchase Something Happened, and my heart cried as I read the story of this man’s empty life, and how it reminded me of so many with whom I’ve visited throughout the years–successful people who felt empty, people who learned the art of making a living, but still didn’t know how to live.

I am writing this tonight to anyone out there who finds life empty and woefully short on meaning. It doesn’t have to be that way; you have the power within your own mind to create a meaningful, artful life. You have all the resources within your grasp. You have the purple crayon.

You are more than your daily job.

You are more than a member of your nuclear family.

You are more than a resident in your surrounding neighborhood.

You are Harold, and you wield the purple crayon. Go forth and color your world as you see fit. If today was a pale, colorless day, tomorrow does not have to be a repeat performance.

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. 

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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29 Responses to “Reaching for the Purple Crayon”

  1. createarteveryday Says:

    This is a quite stirring post. Thank you.


  2. createarteveryday Says:

    Reblogged this on Create art everyday and commented:
    We all hold a purple crayon! It’s our responsibility to use it. Wise words from a blogging friend this fine morning. Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Marika Reinke Says:

    Thank you for this reminder, children’s stories are so powerful and there are no coincidences – the crayon found you. I loved waking up to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jo Says:

    Thank you for reminding me of my all-time favorite and most influential book from childhood, Harold and the Purple Crayon. I don’t think I’ve ever put the crayon down. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Playamart - Zeebra Designs Says:

    wow; you touched many with this po9st, and now i understand a stronger signal regarding the crayon you spotted the next day.

    yes, Life gives us wonderful presents sometimes!


    Liked by 1 person

  6. prestonspringer Says:

    I can’t begin to explain how you have rocked my world the last few posts. Thanks. Has not helped my situation in my brain, and how I am wanting to do anything but teach art right now. But has my brain spinning in a good way. Thanks for messing with my brain, please keep it up.


    • davidtripp Says:

      I’m really moved by your comment, thank you. I always hope I can post something positive for someone else, as I can testify that blogs have pulled me into a new zone repeatedly. I just this world in which we live, with communication opening the way it is. Thank you for reaching out to me.


  7. Jessica Says:

    Wow this is really inspiring! Thank you for writing this.


  8. Xraypics Says:

    Other people have said what I think better than I, so just to thank you for this blog.


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