Staying inside the lines

By Ron

crabThere’s a popular rule of thumb that separates creative types from their more pedantic brethren. “Did you color inside the lines or outside the lines?”

If you color inside the lines, you’re a structured, follow-the-rules thinker. But, if you color outside the lines, you’re more creative, a free thinker, someone who doesn’t like to be constrained by the boundaries we’re given.

Me, I would have loved to color inside the lines. I tried. I really did. I just didn’t have the hand-eye coordination to keep the crayon from crossing the thick black border. Like it had a will of its own. I hated coloring. I also had a hard time figuring what colors to use. I liked it better when I came across the rare color-by-numbers books. I still couldn’t keep inside the lines, though. Most coloring books also had connect-the-dot pictures. Those were great for a linear thinker and didn’t require near as much patience as coloring.

Now, though, I think I would approach it differently. First of all, I would scan the image, select the area I want a particular color and fill it with that color. You design geeks know what I’m saying. That eliminates the whole hand-eye thing altogether.

More importantly, I would look at the picture differently. Sure, I’d want to still try to stay inside the lines, but I might not be content with the picture I’m given. I might want to create some of my own lines to fill with the colors I choose.

It’s just like that with employment. Sure, I know I need to make money to live, but I don’t have to stay inside the lines of corporate America to do that. Since the industrial revolution, our society says we need to get an education and then get a job. Those lines are blurring for many people. Some are combining learning and career so there’s hardly any way to tell the difference. And they’re having one hell of a time.

I don’t think I can be that fluid about it. I still need things to be better defined, so I need the lines. But lucky for me, I don’t have to use the ones someone else put there. I can create my own structure, my own lines – whatever I need to feel secure, yet free at the same time. That’s the theory, anyway.

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