Paint a Picture

Years ago, back when I was about 16, I wrote a song called, “Paint a Picture”. It went like this:

Paint a picture on the wall
Of everything you want this world to be.
Pick pretty colors, use them all
To paint the world you’d really like to see.
And when you’ve finished painting
All the dreams that you can think of
Stand back and take a look at all those dreams unfurled
Then go out and paint that picture on the world.

Honestly, I don’t know where those words came from. I certainly didn’t comprehend them at the time. No sooner than I had finished, my pragmatic mind immediately went to work on them: “What kind of hippie-dippy, flower-power nonsense is that? It’s way too idealistic – and unrealistic. I can’t do anything to change the world…” And on it went. Meanwhile my heart was desperately whispering, “It’s true, it’s true, you can, you can”.

But it was a lone voice.

Even as I attempted to pursue my dreams, the naysayers were all around me with their “words of wisdom”:

  • “This is fine for now, until you figure out what you really want to do.”
  • “Pretty soon you’ll have to come down out of the clouds and live in the real world.”
  • “You have to earn a living. You have to put bread on the table.”
  • “You can’t just keep chasing those dreams forever.”
  • “God wants you to give up your dreams because He has a better plan for your life.”

Like a fool, I let their voices get into my head. And I stopped listening to my heart.

With “Paint a Picture” tucked safely away in my writing notebook, I quietly closed the cover on it and went on with life. Over the years, it got lost amongst sadder lyrics about broken hearts and unfinished business. Every once in a while I’d run across that idealistic little verse again. Once more, I’d breathe a heavy sigh. “Nice sentiment”, I’d think to myself. “But I was just a kid, I didn’t understand how hard life can be”.

Well, I’m not a kid anymore. I understand how hard life can be. But I’ve finally realized that God never asked me to give up my dreams for some “better plan” He’d concocted. I know now that He put that dreamer’s song in my heart the day I was born. And 16 years later, in a moment of teenage hippie-dippyness, I began singing the words while plunking away on my guitar, and I wrote them down on a sheet of paper. There they would lay, waiting to remind me time and time again that God’s only plan for my life was to dream the dreams He had planted deep inside me, paint them on the world and leave it a more beautiful place than I found it.

So, fifty-plus years into this trip around the planet, I finally figure this out.

What can I do about it now?

Well, I still have a few years left. I’m here for a while and for a reason, and somehow I don’t think it’s to sit around waiting on the bus. Regardless of what happened in the past, the message is still the same today: dream it, do it. Call me idealistic, unrealistic, hippie-dippy, even senile. But I’m starting to dream all over again.

Because it’s no way to go through life, not believing your own song…


12 responses to “Paint a Picture

  1. I agree… I’m only 25, I may be idealistic but in the end reality comes up… You just have to be realistic with our dreams. And I believe that we are the ones who color our world.

    • Thanks April, for stopping by and commenting.

      Reality indeed comes up. But sometimes what I believe is the present reality is really just fear of the future. The only true reality is what God has given.

  2. Really liked your post. I am in a similar frame of mind and though I know that the World is what you make of it, there are too many things to do…too many tasks to take care of. Nevertheless, enjoyed your poem…it really touched me

    • Hi, and thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed the poem.

      Yes, there are “too many things to do” as you say. People are “depending on me”. But I can’t really give them anything if my heart is empty. All I can share is my own emptiness. And that doesn’t do anyone any good…

  3. I absolutely loved this post and your song, Ken! It was quite powerful. I am very unrealistic then, if thinking that ones dreams can come true, is being unrealistic. At the end of the day, our dreams are the only hope we should cling to with dear life that will surely carry us from one episode to the other in this life. I believe that the day we give up on “believing our own song” is the day that we truly stop living. Thanks for sharing mate. 🙂

    • Thanks, Deeone. I’m glad the song resonated with you as well.

      And I’m with ya: if being realistic means accepting the status quo, and being resigned to the idea that we have no power to change our world for the better, then I will just have to be “unrealistic”, I suppose…

  4. I understand where you’re coming from Ken. When I was young and told people that I wanted to be an author and do this and do that, it was always something like “stop blowing smoke girl. You better try and get you a real job.” But I didn’t care and still don’t. I’m going to do what I dream of doing regardless. I’m glad to know that you’re dreaming again and I say keep on dreaming and doing it. When nay-sayers see you making progress, they’ll change their tune, believe me :-).

    P.S.- this post reminded me of a poem I wrote titled Perhaps. It was inspired by an episode from The Simpson’s. You can read it here:

    I think there are a lot of people that feel life got in the way of their dream but that’s usually proceeded by nay-sayers dissuading them from jump street. A shame really. It’s probably why people aren’t happy doing what it is they’re doing 😦

    • So now you know why this crazy old guy is always commenting on your blog saying “Go for it, don’t give up!” 🙂 I know you have no intention of ever giving up, I just want to be a yea-sayer amongst all the nay-sayers.

      I really liked your poem. I have a trunk full of those good memories as well, of the accomplishments I made before the Big U-turn. I look back on them with pride, and, as you say, use them as fertile soil for dreams to come.

  5. I think even two old men sitting in the back of a pickup truck, who think they’re going nowhere …… have probably touched more lives than they realize….. 🙂

    • Hey Judy,

      Omigosh I can’t believe you still remember that song about the “Two Old Men”. Talk about a blast from the past. 😉

      Thanks for the encouragement. It means more than you know. God has been gracious to redeem my stupid mistakes all these years, and has given me a good life with opportunities to shine His light along the way. But like the prodigal son returned, I wear a borrowed robe, and though I am grateful for it, it still doesn’t fit quite as good as the one the Father originally had for me.

      • Well, Ken, there was a short-lived panic when I couldn’t remember if there were two old men or three……. but I recovered when I decided (1) three men were too many to be sitting in the back of a pickup truck, and (2) two just sounded better. I actually remember several of your songs……ONE THING I hope I hear you saying is that you are writing again!

        • Well, I am still writing – this blog. I love it because at last I can speak my heart and put it out there to people all over the world. And those who connect with what I have to say can comment back and share their thoughts as well.

          That in itself is a dream come true.

          No, it isn’t “putting bread on the table”. But that was never my reason for writing anything…

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