“A traveler experiences the unfolding nature of life while carried along by its currents.” Mariellen, author of BreatheDreamGo, a travel blog about meaningful travel.
The “unfolding nature of life”—I see the Lotus flower that serves as a symbol for the process of self-discovery and enlightenment. And “life’s currents” recalls the idea of the unexpected. Journeying not only allows room for the unexpected, it is ubiquitous to travel in foreign lands. And how we feel and react in unfamiliar situations and in strange cultures, being faced with the unknown, is revealing of our true natures.
My first trip out of the country was to Mexico in 1980 and I remember how amazed I was at the power of seeing myself “out of context”. If hunger for meaning is at the core of the human experience, then seeing the world and me in it from an entirely different perspective went right to the heart of that quest. My eyes opened wider. Connections grew deeper.
Over time I’ve learned how journeying and discovery can happen in the studio just as incandescently as it does far from home, especially if we allow room for the unexpected in our work. Proust wrote: “the true voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” That’s the challenge!
As we continue to work toward the show with emphasis on the “results” and not the process, focusing on persistently “having new eyes” is what will, ironically, deliver the highest and best results. Contrarily, concentrating on improving this or that will not get you there. If a piece isn’t working, continually beating your head against the wall as you try to achieve a predicted outcome is more likely to just give you a headache rather than the effects you desire.
The trick is to keep fresh—create anew, even if it means destroying that image you’ve worked so hard to perfect. Then respond. With a deep faith in your imagination and creativity and all that you instinctively know about composition, line, color, etc. react to what is in front of you. At this stage of the game it might seem drastic to look at any of your paintings with this abandon in mind. And most of them don’t require such radical actions. But if one is torturing you, be willing to take it to a new land. See what new viewpoints will do. Recall our exercises like the one last week. Risk. The more you do it, the easier it will be and the greater likelihood that meaning will unfold.
*Title, of course, is courtesy of Joni Mitchell’s All I Want, from the 1970 album Blue