As I saw my grandma lying there I didn’t want to touch her. But my grandpa placed his arm on my shoulder and motioned forward.
“Go on,” he said. “Say goodbye.”
I didn’t want to at the time, but as I kissed my grandma’s forehead it felt right. It was the best way I could have said goodbye to her, and in that moment all of the misconceived notions I had about her cancer washed away.
My grandma was talented and poured her heart into everything she made, and like any good artist you could tell when a painting was hers. She had a way of moulding life into otherwise lifeless objects through a never-ending love with the world around her.
Every time we went over to her house there was a new painting on the wall to look at, and over time the house was filled with dozens of her creations. She never seemed to run out of new ideas for things to paint and mould and create.
But then the cancer hit and she started to get sick.
It took all of us by surprise, but if anyone could beat this it was her. She would live to tell the tale — she had to — or else what did it all mean in the end?
And still she painted.
She painted through different radiation treatments and she painted through new urges by the doctor to try other treatments. She painted through hospital visits and she painted through the cancer, because she refused to believe that life could tell her when to stop living.
My grandma was real and genuine in a world filled with people striving towards becoming someone they are not. She taught me that we are all artists, and we all have the capacity to produce great art.
Why We Are All Artists In Our Own Right
My grandma was more than a painter — she was a true artist in every sense of the word.
As Seth Godin says, “being an artist isn’t a genetic disposition or a specific talent. It’s an attitude we can all adopt. It’s a hunger to seize new ground, make connections, and work without a map. If you do those things, you’re an artist.”
Art is the way you make others feel in this world. Art is the betterment of our consciousness and the promise of something greater in life.
And real, authentic art changes the way we see the world like the words on a page define a character in a novel.
And art is the way you strike from the path and create your own for others to follow.
My grandma could have gone through life by simply living, satisfied as she kept her vision away from the world as she saw it. But she didn’t. She chose to make the world feel, and she reminded others to pursue their art instead of denying the gifts they knew they possessed inside them.
The Truth About Doubt
We all get tripped up by doubt throughout our lives. In fact, I’ve failed more times than I can count – and somewhere along the way I convinced myself I was a terrible writer.
It’s easy to get convinced by doubt – but if you allow yourself to believe in it then you’ll never reach fulfillment.
The truth is that you don’t need to experience tragedy to start living the life of your dreams. You have all the tools within you now to change the world, and you only need to find them first.
As I stared at my grandma on that lifeless slab I realized how much I had left to live and how little I had actually lived so far. But there had to be a way then to transform that feeling of emptiness into something positive, into something that could benefit myself as well as others.
Even though I had chosen to ignore my dreams then, the decision to step into my own power always lied within me – and despite how loud my doubts grew that mere fact had never changed.
And once I realized I was the only one who could make my dreams a reality, my whole world changed.
Stepping into my power no longer became a question of when, but a question of how.
Because no matter how cruel the world gets or how much people tell you you can’t do it, nobody can ever take your dreams away from you.
Realize That Your Life Is Your Own
Every time I spoke to my grandma I could sense the passion she had for life, and the zero tolerance she had for submitting to failure and denying your gifts. She bled for the world around her and she fought for the life in others. Even when she no longer had the energy to paint, she spread happiness through her words and her love and her actions.
She gave so much to the world throughout her sickness; even throughout all the pain she gave and gave until there was nothing left to give, and then she gave some more.
We all have a tendency to doubt ourselves – but we don’t realize that we’re the ones judging ourselves so harshly. We don’t realize that we’re the ones pointing fingers at ourselves and laughing at our own art.
It’s only now, long after her passing, do I realize the sheer force of will my grandma had. The doctors weren’t hopeful and told her the cancer would beat her, but she laughed them off and kept going. She held off death for months and years after the fact, and in the process she changed more lives than I can count.
My grandma did not fail the battle against cancer – far from it.
Even in the end she gave more than she took and left a mark on the world. And when the rest of us would quit she kept going, and she kept spreading her love to everyone around her.
Throughout her life she never gave up, and she persisted towards the things she believed in.
She was more than a great artist – she was a great mother, a great friend, and a good daughter.
But above all she was a fighter, and she fought the cancer with a spirit of her own.
We All Have The Power To Change The World
I refuse to believe that we all don’t have a calling, that thing which guides us in a world which threatens to lead us astray from our dreams every day.
I refuse to believe that it’s all hopeless so why bother.
And I refuse to believe that art is only reserved for painters, writers, sculptors, and actors. Art is for all of us to have, and we each have something unique to share with this world.
Don’t keep your true character chained up from the world to see because you’re afraid it isn’t good enough.
After all, we’re all painters and sculptors of our lives, and we always have the power to write the next part of our stories.
I miss you, Grandma.
Thank you for reminding us that the world owes you nothing to follow your dreams and create your own art.
The world is waiting for you, and it’s time you stopped waiting on it. @powellwriter
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So go out there and spread your art.
Blake Powell helps writers overcome the stumbling blocks that prevent them from releasing their gifts into the world. You can sign up to his upcoming blog today for exclusive tips on how to conquer writer’s block, and you can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Danielle MacInnes.