Stay the Course

Stay the Course

13254423_10154870366549689_3502177076192464171_nI created this mandala a few months ago. But I want to talk about it now, because it represents an ongoing, recurring theme in drawing and life.

This mandala started out with really fierce looking eyes that looked almost sinister. I almost abandoned it completely because it intimidated me. I wondered where it was coming from. But I liked the concept in general, so I decided to go back in and soften the eyes a little bit.

Originally, I wanted the eyes to align perfectly with some of the other lines in the drawing. But sometimes you have to bend the rules to get what you want, I guess. Or treat them more like guidelines.

Besides, they say it’s hard to tell the difference between a mad dog and a scared dog. So maybe this is just a cowardly lion that needed to be drawn out.

My high school art teacher, Mr. Buchy, would always tell us not to judge our work, but to keep creating because we don’t know where we/it is going. And this is such an excellent way to approach life and relationships, too.

One of the things I have learned through drawing mandalas over the past year is that the end product is often wildly different than the original sketch. And that is part of the fun. Realizing that it isn’t about you, and let images and fragments emerge at their will.

I just finished watching a Chelsea Handler special that talked about this. One of her guests was saying both of her parents warned her not to be possessive of her new child. But instead to see herself as a guide in their lives.

It’s natural, I think, for parents to feel both a sense of power or pride over this other life they have created. But the real power, of course, is not in controlling this other being, but in subtly shaping them and allowing them to become their own person.  Although it’s easy to see how the lines can become blurred between what we are and what we make. This is something I think about a lot because I was named after my mother.

As a childfree woman, I am keenly aware that women create and give birth to many other meaningful things in their lives aside from and in addition to children. And this idea of stewardship as opposed to ownership really resonates with me.

So many times I have started a new drawing or post and I judge it too soon, or don’t like it. But there is this layering that occurs that reminds me of the aging process. It’s like you keep building on the blueprint and just have to trust your instincts. Some layers are superficial, like jewelry or titles. And others layer up with life experiences, that emerge as wrinkles or scars.

Whatever it ends up being, it’s very okay. And it isn’t written in stone. It can be shaped and altered, lovingly. Some of the most brutal scars have been converted into beautiful tattoos. Look to this person – there is a story there.

They say first impressions are everything, and I cringe every time I hear this. Even though I subscribe to it sometimes, too. It’s so important not to get locked into an original thought about something. I’d be totally screwed if people judged me this way. It’s just the beginning of a conversation.

This can be true of fiction, too. When Brad first started watching Breaking Bad, it was just background noise in the living room. I was kind of half watching it. But slowly it drew me in and I became completely engrossed in the story line. Now I can say that it is one of my favorite shows. And that’s just one recent example that comes to mind.

So let’s be kind to each other, and our many creations and iterations. We aren’t perfect, but most of us are good. And worth knowing.  jt


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