During the course of the pandemic, I began creating messages on my driveway in chalk. Reflecting back, I can’t quite pinpoint how it started or how the idea came to me. The genesis of it is long forgotten. But over the last 17 months, weather-permitting, I have consistently taken to the driveway to leave messages of encouragement for myself and anyone who might walk by.
If you think back to mid-March 2020 most of us had little contact with one another. Even here in my condo complex, I saw few people. I suppose I was wanting to create a bright spot in the day for whoever walked by. I also imagine I needed a positive outlet.
It evolved over the weeks and months and I looked forward to the snow stopping, or the rain drying up, so I could leave a message of hope, or speak to the happenings of the time. Ultimately, I think it’s important to me that others know I am paying attention. It’s easy to sit in your home and tell yourself stories that nobody cares about what is happening in your community, in the country, or in the world. It matters to me that we use our voice, or chalk, whatever the case may be.
During this period, I have gotten some random comments like, “You know it’s going to rain and wash all that away.” I have also gotten the questions like, “What are you doing? Don’t you know chalk is for kids?”
I also have received a text or two from my neighbor whose deck looks out over our driveway telling me it is a boost during these times.
But the best one came a few weeks ago. We had a string of days with pop-up thunderstorms so I hadn’t drawn on the driveway in a few weeks. One of the women from the neighboring complex stopped by with her son to tell me she had enjoyed the messages. Then she told me, “I always imagined it was a school girl.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I simply said, “Surprise!”
She walked the block while I was drawing and when it was done she returned to give me her approval.
Here’s the thing. I am not an artist by any stretch. But I often refer back to something from “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson when she talks about how we have lost the capacity for hobbies because we can hardly tolerate not excelling at something we try. She’s right. So whenever that critical part discourages the sidewalk chalk hobby, I remind myself that I am not entitled to be good at everything, or anything. I am entitled to try.
There is catharsis in the chalk. When I am having a day that feels full of frustration sometimes I take to the driveway to see if I can work it out by sharing something helpful. The words I quote are never mine but interestingly they speak to people.
My 11-year-old neighbor particularly liked the quote: “All our wisdom is stored in the trees (Santosh Kalwar). ” I found it fascinating that a quote such as that spoke to her and also loved that it did.
Follow the activities that bring you joy, peace, soothe your soul, or offer you enjoyment. Let’s stop worrying about whether we do it well but instead focusing on whether it allows us to be well.
Maybe your neighbors will assume that the art of your creation was done by a school kid. too!
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G