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Pat Dryburgh

The Mill Pond, which is located on the Dorchester Creek and runs into the Thames River, is an exquisite place. The 3.5 km trail is my all-time favourite places to run, and my childhood memories are full of hockey games and bike rides on and around the pond. It is the first place I recognized as something related to “the environment,” and was often the location of school trips.

As amazing as the pond is, I hate this bridge. Not because the bridge itself is bad. It’s well built, sturdy, and is wide enough for people to pass on both sides. No, my issue is that it brings to mind my one negative memory of the Mill Pond: the day I couldn’t draw a Blue Heron.

It was grade 4, and we took one of our usual field trips to the pond, this time with pencils and sketchbooks in hand, with the goal of sketching either a scene or object we found interesting. When we went down there, there was a beautiful blue heron sitting at the bottom of the waterfall just below this bridge. Even with 30+ students running around, the bird stood completely still. I decided I would try my hand at drawing this beautiful creature, found a rock close by to sit, opened my sketchbook to the first empty sheet (which was the first sheet in the book), and froze.

I couldn’t draw.

I trace my finger in the air along the circumference of the blue heron’s head, down its side, around its beak and back up again. I tried to copy that pattern on the paper, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. The lines didn’t look right. The proportions were all off. I couldn’t see a bird in my blob of lead.

So, I gave up. Once in a while I’d give it another shot, even pick up a book at the library to see if I could figure it out, but I’ve I’ve never successfully drawn anything other than stick figures and maps. I was so dumbfounded by inability to draw that while approaching the end of school and trying to decide what career path to take, I vowed I would never do anything in art or design. I clearly wasn’t capable.

Fast forward 17 years from that fateful day at the pond, and I’m nearing my first year anniversary of working as a freelance designer. No, I’m still not drawing anything, but I have decided I won’t let that stop me from being the best designer I can be.

Maybe you’ve got a limitation that, no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to get through. My advice to you is to give up, not because giving up is the goal, but because there are so many other things you can latch your time and talent onto that struggling endlessly on a single skill just doesn’t make sense. Instead, find something you do seem to have a bit of talent in, even if it’s basic and unrefined. Work at refining and polishing and perfecting that talent until it becomes a skill, or even a strength. Don’t let something you can’t do discourage you from doing something you were quite possible made to do.

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