Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rushing Toward Beauty & Building Resilience

8"x10" Footprints On The Earth Oil & Cold Wax

While I was painting this afternoon I noticed at one point, how much I was in a hurry to get a part of the painting that I didn't like covered up. That little palette knife was just doing 90 in a school zone.  I could feel the rushing, the almost breathless way I went after the offending spot.  And I thought to myself, "isn't this interesting?  What's that all about?"  And it struck me that this is very like me in many parts of my life, this lack of tolerance for the imperfect, for the messy, a reaction that often leads to feelings of frustration.

Feeling sick?  Let's get that out of the way.  Messy kitchen?    Messy life?   Let's get that cleaned up. A Longing for problems to disappear in a poof.  Hmm... in a hurry to make the ugly; beautiful, the imperfect; less flawed.  A magnetic draw towards beauty and perfection.  Definitely encouraged by our culture, I think we all have this in varying degrees.

8"x10" Uncovered Oil and Cold Wax

And aiming oneself in the direction of clean and tidy and beautiful is a fine intention, let's not get weird here. It's perhaps the rush away from mess and chaos, that requires reflection.  And how we handle the movement from what we "find undesirable" to it's counterpart is vital to our well being, I think.

It came to me how much depth and complexity I rob myself of, when I hurry to get things all "nice" without appreciating the nuances of messy.  Perhaps I miss finding the interesting hidden line or shape, or a new direction in a painting I am in a hurry to get resolved.
16"x16" Tethered  Oil & Cold wax

Maybe I am thinking about things in this way because I've been dealing with a dental adventure that found me having a tooth extracted last week.  Around the same time I came across a German doctor who writes about finding meaning in illness. His take is that the healing lives in the more complicated crevices of understanding, buried in the deeper meaning of our symptoms, instead of in the headlong rush to get those symptoms out of the way. In the same breath that it makes sense to me, I also want to get on with what interests me (some habits die a slow painful death)!  I've gathered my arsenal of natural remedies and am marching my little holistic army toward that dental infection.  The inclination to be well is fine, don't get me wrong, it is the energy we bring to it that's important, I think.

I was reminded of the quality of "resilience" in my work, my health and some frustrating encounters with Samsung's customer service this week. I listened to a talk by Joan Borysenko a couple of weeks ago on "stress hardiness" or resilience and it really resonated with me. Unfortunately I can't link you to that talk because it's no longer available but here's a similar one. She talked about the 3 C's of stress hardiness: 1. Commitment- a sense of purpose and engagement with the world.  2. Control- a belief that our actions can make a difference.  3.  Challenge - an understanding that life is constantly changing but viewing that change as exciting rather than scary.  Here's a nice little blogpost someone wrote about it.

I am really working on #3, viewing the less desirable ones as exciting.  How about you? I wish you a stress hardy week.