how to start rowing a boat before finding a pair of oars

There’s a famous traditional song that everyone learn already as a child in Sweden. The lyrics go like this: “Who can sail without the wind? Who can row without oars? Who can leave behind a friend, without just one tear to pour? I can sail without the wind, I can row without oars, but I cannot leave a friend, without just one tear to pour.”

I was thinking about those words a lot when I was a little girl. How did they do it? How do you sail without the wind? And row without oars? The later I could somehow imagine – you just have to use your hands although it must be exhausting and take forever! But to sail without the wind?

It has taken me a big chunk of my life to understand what it means. But now I know how to row a boat without oars… But let’s start like this…

why you should jump into the water and get wet if you don’t find a boat

I bet you also had dreams and wishes that seemed so crazy and far away from reality that they sunk into the depth of your subconsciousness before even touching the daylight? Or maybe you did take action to make this specific dream come true but somehow it didn’t bring you all the way and you got stucked on the shore of the lake seeing your goals fading on the other side… Instead of jumping into the water to reach your goal, you find excuses like “I’m such a bad swimmer… I don’t have a swimsuit… Or a yacht… or a sailing boat…or even a rowing boat anywhere… We all have these excuses for sitting down on a stone, watching the horizon and stay on this side of the lake instead of plunging into the water to see if it is really THAT impossible to reach our goal. My dream was to learn how to design surface patterns and improve my illustration skills. My excuses not to make real efforts to achieve this were “I’m such a bad painter… I don’t have any good watercolours… I don’t have a computer… or a Wacom tablet… not even a decent pad of paper…

But the only way to learn how to swim is to jump into the water and swim with what you’ve got! Or, if you find a boat without oars (like a 10 year old Canon Power Shot with 4 megapixels), USE IT, it might take you longer to get there but you will still get closer to your goal.

I started with the very simplest supplies, the camera mentioned above and no computer or any other technical devices. I was rowing without oars for quite some time. I took a course on how to create repeating patterns manually. Was I happy when I had completed my first time ever surface pattern design! You can see some sketches and the handdrawn repeat above. And yes, after rowing the leaking little rowboat for a while you’ll suddenly have the opportunity to get a sailing boat instead… Before I knew it I had enrolled for a course making digital patterns in Illustrator and Photoshop by the amazingly talented artist and teacher Jessica Swift (more about her in an upcoming post). Taking the first step in the direction of your desired goal will make the wind wake up and fill your sails, that means, when you put in the efforts and leave your fears behind, assistance WILL come and help bringing you closer to your dreams. And who knows, you might even get a yacht one day… And if not, you’ve already made it without it!

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