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.

19 comments:

  1. carole, 'tethered' and 'uncovered' - wow...

    feeling very much like a blob today *and* knowing it will pass. (i can hardly wait ; )

    love...

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    1. thanks Lynne! I am well acquainted with blobishness and it's mischievous cousin, slothfulness; perhaps a segue to hibernation season?? Glad to hear there's another "I can hardly wait" out there!

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  2. loved this post, but oh my!! the last two paintings, lovely, lovely in all the right ways - your soft whisper but strong impact too - two for the price of one!! xo

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  3. Thanks, Jeane! I'm workin on it. xoxo

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  4. Hi Carole Your paintings are simply gorgeous- wonderful Colour, super line, very intriguing. You might like Thomas Moore's. Work called The Poetics of illness.

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  5. thanks, Lisa. I will check out this book. I already love the title.

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  6. I call what you're talking about the "tolerance of ambiguity." I have problems in this area as well, especially when it comes to hiccups in personal relationships. I want things to be resolved as quickly as possible, I can't stand the not knowing, the wondering whether I will be banished from someone's life for the mere act of being human (as I was constantly from my mother's life, so there you have the source of my lifelong struggle in this regard). But in other areas, too, I want things cleaned up, sorted out, finished off. I'm learning to live more graciously with ambiguity...because really, life IS so ambiguous, especially these days.

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  7. what you say resonates so much with me, yes it is the tolerance of ambiguity, of change which as you point out. It is the way life is. Funny that we humans, find it so difficult. The good news is we can gradually change the structure of our brain as we work with this, to make us more resilient and adaptable to change

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  8. Painting is what's teaching me to stay in the moment. I am very 'goal-oriented' in personality & my past work just encouraged it (functional potter). It wasn't until I started painting that I began to find joy in the journey - in the moment. I think we see life as 'more-messy' when we leave the moment.
    Your paintings are joyfully serene - there's a balance and calmness in what first appears as chaos. I find myself lost in them.
    Wishing you quick healing with your dental woes.

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  9. thanks, Judy. Interesting comments! I find it sometimes takes me a while to "get into" the moment. Sometimes it feels like I'm just mucking around til the process comes to the forefront and I'm in to moment, if that makes any sense?

    Your comment reminds me of when I used to work as a technical writer and people would just dump these loads of information on me (verbally & written). I got to realize that out of those huge balls of chaos, order would somehow descend if I just started working on it.

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    1. Carole - what I was trying to say - for me - having a deadline/goal always kept me focused on the goal - never able to really get in to the moment, but always measuring my success toward the goal. In painting - finally - I can lose myself - no longer concerned with the finished product. There's so much freedom in that.
      And your work, especially, 'Uncovered' - there's a beautiful calmness under your lines - and additionally choosing the color red - full of energy - but beneath that is a coming together. I love that piece.

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  10. Caught breathless looking at these two pieces. the line , shape, volume is so beautiful ...good things happening in the studio for you! "Tethered" carries a weightlessness along with heaviness!
    Best healing with the dental problems.

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  11. Thanks for the lovely words and healing wishes Maryanne!

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  12. Beautiful paintings... all three!
    I know the feeling of wanting to get the flawed out of the way quickly even if it means missing the easy solution..... or the lesson to be learned. It makes me so uncomfortable having to face the flaw. Well. in art anyway. In health I will slide it under the carpet until I can't avoid it another second. Hope you are feeling 100% soon.

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  13. Thanks, Robyn for your kind comment! Yeah I know the sliding under the carpet thing too!

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  14. Wow- I mean, WOW! The second 2 pieces are unbelievably expressive and evocative. I understand only too well what you mean about wanting to 'correct the flaws'; I have the same problem. While you may think they're flawed, trust me- you are on to something wonderful here!

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  15. hey Sharmon, thanks for stopping by and your kind comments.

    and here's to developing a new relationship with the flaws and chaos!

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  16. Messy is almost always better, for art. The opposite would all the clean digital stuff, which feels a bit like death.

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  17. yes, I think you're right. I love a look of naturalness or randomness which is often not that easy to create. seems like it might be, but often not.

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