A couple of years ago, my husband, then-8-year-old daughter and I visited the museum in Santa Rosa that is dedicated to the work of cartoonist Charles Schulz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip that delighted people for close to half a century. One of the most interesting elements of the museum was an entire wall that had been removed from a house Schulz lived in during the earlier years of his life. The wall is now in the museum, because hidden under several coats of paint that subsequent owners had applied to it was a colorful mural Schulz had painted for his daughter—and one which contained prototypes of his characters which later became so famous.
I was struck by this as an interesting metaphor for creating our best lives: Sometimes it’s not about adding to ourselves, but stripping away—uncovering the playful, colorful parts of ourselves that we may have covered by fearful or resigned layers of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts.” As Elbert Hubbard once reminded us, “The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed—it is a process of elimination.”
May we remember the colors and delights of our childhood, and become willing to bring them forth again. May we remember that living the life of our dreams sometimes involves a process of elimination. May we revisit the treasures that may be lying under the surface, just waiting to be in service to ourselves and our world.