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Something made me pick up ‘The Storytelling Artist – The Road to Controversial Art’ this week and start reading random sections of it, looking for possible better phrases and examples to replace those that I had used when compiling each chapter.

I felt it was a little like creating a painting to the best of your ability and then checking this future masterpiece that will represent you for the rest of eternity for errors and misalignments. Yes, improvements could be made, and I could have written more or included other examples, ideas and incidents.

But of course, there is a time when you must leave a painting and call it a day before you over paint it and totally ruin the original reason for its creation.

I read through a section I wrote about watching tv as a seven-year-old and being absolutely amazed at other kids having their artwork shown on a teatime kids television programme. Everyone who had tuned in to watch it, could see their art.

“Wow, imagine that” was my very comment that summed up this huge accomplishment by these young artists, which in my small world, was pretty much impossible to achieve.

This, I guess at the time became an aim of mine, even though I didn’t know what an aim was, or what it was like to focus on something so far removed from my small Welsh terraced house and my love of art with my broken crayons and pencils.

Fast forward many years, and here I am now resetting my aims and objectives each week to achieve becoming a full-time artist and being successfully recognized in my field and financially secure beyond my dream.

Goal setting: something that has been part of my entire adult life. I don’t know if it is innate or we are conditioned to ensure that this becomes second nature to most of us, in order to be better individuals, to fit in and comply easier, or even in a microscopic way, to play a single part in advancing the human race.

And many times, I find I am readjusting these to take account of varying dynamics or sometimes reflect on the more achievable rather than the ultimate dream. But little do I go back in time and see what my original goal was last year, a decade ago or even back to my childhood. I just plough on regardless, forward facing, ignoring the past.

This inability of mine reminds me of the quote of the fictional Italian Ferrari racing driver “Franco” in the 1976 film Gumball Rally, ripping his rear-view mirror from his Ferrari Daytona tossing it aside and saying, “What’s behind me is not important!” A quote I love to use from time to time in my best but poor Italian racing driver accent.

But where we came from is in fact very important, and what is behind us is actually quite significant. We all have had that look of wonder at some stage, just like me as a seven-year-old and dreamt of the far reaching, the unbelievable, and the impossible. What we have actually achieved in that time since that moment of wonder is quite remarkable when we look back at what caught our imagination all those years ago.

For some, it was that car that dad owned and the speed it reached when you struggled to look out of the window as you were so small, and you clung to the base of the seat laughing at the top of your voice. Or the wedding dress of the bride that looked so exquisite and the attention that she attracted as she stepped out of the church into a wonderful cloud of colourful confetti. The size of the giant of a man in the sports team you supported, the kindness of the doctor as she comforted you when you sat on your parent’s lap feeling unwell.

Moments that made you think that one day you wanted to own that car, be that bride, that sports person or doctor, but had no idea how to get there and what to do. That wide eyed moment of wonder that stuck with you.

Well in reflection, with the demands of the world, our society and peer pressure to continually achieve greater things than yesterday, and aspire to the next challenging goal, it pays to step back and reflect from time to time on your very own equivalent of that seven-year-olds wow moment. And in that reflection, appreciate that you have actually achieved something significant and worthwhile in your life.

For me, I just have to acknowledge that I have now had many thousands of people viewing my art, it has been displayed in numerous galleries, and it hangs in countless locations and homes, bringing happiness and fond memories to all those who choose to possess it and ask me to capture something that is close to their heart.

So, be kind to yourself occasionally, and think back to the wonders of your childhood and the amazing world that stretched far into the distance ahead of you, as you looked with opened eyes at the fantastic things that made your ‘wow’ moment and filled your mind with awe and optimism and reassure yourself that you have actually achieved something worthwhile.

Ian Mackenzie

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