An Important Lesson from Christopher Columbus on “Rediscovery”

For a lot of years, the fact that Americans celebrate Columbus Day the second Monday of October has puzzled me. Despite what we were taught in school, we all know Columbus did not discover America. We know that Columbus’ arrival brought war, slavery, disease – among other forms of strife – for our Native Americans. So what gives?

While I could speculate, I’m more interested in finding the positive within the metaphor of rediscovery.

A couple of weeks ago I did something very un-Alexia. I took a painting class. Now, I do NOT self-identify as an artist. At least not a visual one. I always struggled in school in my art classes, and my ultimate shame came in fourth grade when I won the Santa Monica, California fire department art contest only to discover when on stage in the middle of the Santa Monica Mall, in front of my parents and teachers, that the piece of art the city was lauding wasn’t mine. While my parents tried to assuage my bruised ego by saying, “you have a lot of gifts, sweetie, you couldn’t be gifted at everything,” that was the beginning of me playing small whenever one of my hands encountered any form of canvas.

I’m not sure why I signed up for Christina Ambubuyog‘s Your Soul on Canvas. But I did. And during it I rediscovered that my art is not what I create on a page. It’s the act of using my hands to express what lives in the playful spaces between my head, my heart, and my soul. More importantly, it’s my invitation to myself to engage in activities where I am not the best and to enjoy them because their physical expression brings me pleasure. I’m not sure when I started equating pleasure from perfection – or from the pursuit of it – but that’s a surefire recipe for disappointment and stymied creativity.

We honor ourselves when we rediscover that which we’ve turned our back on and discounted – be it a skill, a relationship, or a way of communicating or being in the world. That is the truest form of creativity – allowing ourselves to surrender and begin again. And creativity is not only the gateway to high performance, it is one of the foundations of happiness, gratitude, and transformation.

What is one facet of yourself that you have turned your back on, and how might rediscovering her enable you to step more fully into yourself? What would be the payoff? And how might this re-engagement inspire and unlock possibilities in the people you work, live, and play with?

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  1. Sylvia Russell
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I have dusted off my flute and joined my local community orchestra.
    It is quite a challange, but oh, so enriching to my soul.
    This summer I played softball on my church’s team after not playing in 35 years! What a blast!
    I was the oldest player on the team and I actually hit the ball and got on base a few times.
    Embracing the Possibilites of life….

  2. Posted October 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    @SylviaRussell Yes, you are the embodiment of rediscovery! I love that you are figuring out how to play AND be of service in the world.

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