I’ve noticed a trend lately, most obviously in my local Barnes and Noble, but also in my home.  It’s the practice of adult coloring.  If you aren’t familiar, it’s not the same as adding the prefix “adult” to beverages and bookstores.  Adult coloring is an activity that is typically associated with children, but is now being taken up by adults everywhere.  The concept is simple. Take a page with an outline of a picture, grab a handful of pens, crayons or markers and go to town.

Why this sudden trend?  I think it’s pretty clear. Let me explain my thought.

Our culture has elevated the value of creativity to the Nth degree.  TV commercials goad us to think different and outside the box.  We are constantly told to change the paradigm and challenge the status quo.  The next big thing is waiting for someone to go against the flow and swim upstream.

I have to say I agree with this sentiment.  As a creative person, I’m drawn toward new ideas and new challenges.  I read books like, First Break All The Rules and subscribe to Fast Company.  But lately, the quiet little practice of coloring within the lines has been a welcome change from the boundless thinking I tend to engage in.

Karen got me started on it.  She’s got a book half filled with colorful designs.  One day as we sat in our chairs, she tore a page out and handed to me.  “Here.” She said.  It might do you some good.

Who knew?

Coloring inside the lines has a place, a welcome place in frenetic times in which I find myself. Much like the space between the yellow line on the left and the white line on the right side of the pavement; staying between those two lines brings safety as well as freedom on the road in my truck.  For the most part, if I choose to stay in my lane, I can travel all across the country with relative ease and security. Granted, there are times to go off-road and explore, but even then should be done at the right time and right place.  Going four wheeling in my friends back 40 is a little different than tearing up a golf course.

I think the lesson for me as a person with a bent toward always being creative is to recognize the weakness of my strength.  Too much of one thing isn’t always good.  Few recognize the best-selling book, The Purpose-Driven Life, still implies being driven.  I need to take time to step back in the box and remember the comfort of its context. I need to get back on the road and stay inside the lines and feel the liberty they provide.

In defense of lines and boxes