As I open my heart this morning to each of you, I have to stop and ask myself who each of you may be. After all, my goal is to share experiences, so I suppose I must understand who might be open to hearing my voice. I suppose I should also let you each into how I hear my own voice.
A voice is a lens into the world, and these lenses may be rose-colored or they may be distorted. Regardless, our voices are our lens and therefore our life-perspective.
So, my friends, what I hope that you hear in my perspective is a positive but honest voice of experience. I’ve kissed more than my fair share of toads, and I’ve shamelessly been both the giver and the receiver of toad warts – thus my self-proclaimed expertise. I suppose that means that I, myself, have been somebody else’s Toad.
As I see the Art of Toad Kissing, we have all likely kissed or will kiss a hundred frogs or more to find our Princes or Princesses. We are all Masters or on our way to becoming well-versed in the Art, but each of us with our own creativity.
So perhaps you ask, “Where do I fit?” Am I a beautiful princess or a wart-infested toad? Seriously, if we all have kissed a toad, but none of us really owns up to being a toad, who is it that we are kissing?
My opinion? I see the Mastery of the Art as 5 distinct voices for the toad kisser.
1. Voice of the Novice: This toad kisser is new to the wonderful world of love and romance, doe-eyed and trusting and searching for a canvas to paint a masterpiece. He or she has not yet discovered the true heartbreaks of love and life, and this fresh perspective can often be overlooked and underappreciated. I think we should all stop and listen to this untainted voice sometimes – the purity is quite refreshing.
The novice may hastily commit, however, to oil painting – finding himself or herself covered in the greasy residue left over from creating art using a nasty, radioactive toad as the subject.
2. Voice of the Apprentice: Having sampled several mediums, this toad kisser has earned his or her brush strokes. This person can be trusted with someone’s heart, but may not be ready to commit to water color over oil. He or she may even still want to experiment with sculpture or music and can find beauty in many forms.
The apprentice will still kiss many toads, but he or she is a more discerning artist than the novice. This person begins to understand the method and the process that compliments the art forms, and at times allows the mechanics of the art to replace the true voice.
Still, we can learn much from our apprentice – just as Mickey taught the Wizard in the Disney classic – Fantasia. This person is well on his or her way to self-discovery and to taking pride in talent, strength and beauty.
3. Voice of the Master: The master is ready to be both the teacher and the student, and hopefully this artist has finely found his or her true voice. This person knows the medium that best compliments the strengths, and yet can share vulnerabilities to learn new talents.
The key to achieving this level is to recognize that art cannot be perfect, but it can be beautiful regardless. When this person focuses inward, he or she can develop the internal soul of the artist. Outward expression may allow for others to share in the journey – regardless, this person realizes that with or without a toad, art is still possible. This is how we truly find our subject for which to create our masterpiece.
4. Voice of the Doctorate: To achieve a doctorate in the Art of Toad Kissing, this artist now dedicates his or her art to perfect the voice. Perspective is clear, and a masterpiece is well underway. Students at all levels strive to achieve this confidence in self-awareness and contentment.
The masterpiece of this artist may well be a collaborative work of art – a relationship with another artist. It may simply be an unwavering self-belief and inner beauty that we all strive to emulate. Regardless, this person is truly rare.
The challenge with becoming this skilled in an art, I imagine, would be taking that art for granted – failing to appreciate the beauty still held within and forgetting to share with others.
5. Voice of the Legacy: We’ve spoken of the art of toad kissing, the legacy is clearly recognizable above all else. Let me try to paint this picture as I see it through my lens.
I saw an elderly couple last week holding hands and eating icecream. They laughed together and she still glowed when he leaned in and kissed her cheek. This to me, was the artwork of a legacy. I saw in them, nostalgia and love – years of mastering the skill of making themselves better people. Together they could share a piece of the same canvas and know that whatever they created could be between only them but that others would always remember their form of art.
This voice – often heard more clearly by art-lovers – is gentle and quiet. No longer a struggling artist, these voices are revered in the art world as having left the gift of their art as a legacy for the rest of us to cherish.
I found that my art lies in design and remodeling. I don’t have a brush stroke to paint my walls or the skill of the carpenter – instead, I am an architect. I designed me, and I am happy. I can tell you how I did it, and I can share my own mistakes and masterpieces throughout my discovery.
So, after reading this, do you want to share my voice? Do you recognize a voice of your own that you can share? If so, tell me who you are.
On the other hand, are you wondering why you don’t hear your voice as you read this note? If this is the case – perhaps you are realizing that just maybe you are somebody else’s toad and messing up their masterpiece. That’s ok too – we’ve all been there. I’d love to hear from you, and I promise to respect your warts.