Yesterday I was completely overwhelmed. Too much media, politics, world events, financial markets in Europe and my own investments in a downturn, and then surrender to the fact that Autumn is here. Again. When I’m in this place, I’m of no use to myself or anyone else. I’m not emanating joy. So all I can see is through the filter of my own frustration and fear. People around me are driving like idiots. Sad stories all around me. I’m starting to catch a cold because my immune system is suppressed due to stress.
STOP!! Return to what you have control over. My own emotions. My own thoughts which become beliefs which become behaviors which yield results and judgement about the results. Wow. All of this is none of my business. What I really want in my life is that joy of discovery. Fascination and curiosity feed me. So this morning I realized for the first time after more than a year of taking Spanish lessons that when the past subjunctive tense magically flowed from my lips, (OMG!) it’s a neurological pathway that my plastic flexible brain has finally established due to repetition! It’s not magic that I go out and encounter, it’s right here in my own brain and the potential for it was there all along. Perfect timing though, as I was about to throw in the towel! I’ll eventually be fluent in my own way. Not like my teacher Pili who is from Barcelona, because I wasn’t steeped from birth in Spanish and because only Pili can speak like Pili!
Then there’s my guitar. If I practice, eventually I’ll play with ease and flow in my own way. Not Eric Clapton’s style, not my teacher Jerry’s style, but my own, and only if I create those neurological grooves through practice. Jerry pointed out the other day in a video I’m making about guitars that it’s a very personal energy and touch that is created between player and his instrument. He could pick up Carlos Santana’s guitar, use his amp, even hold his pick and play the exact same song and it still wouldn’t sound like the original. Everything we do is our own unique expression and someday I’ll pick up the guitar and easily play what I want to.
This morning I had a revelation about all of this. I’ve pressured myself saying I ‘have to do my Spanish homework, have to practice, have to paint, have to write, have to exercise. But these are not obligations or necessities or musts on my To Do list. These are part of life which is composed of the lessons we choose. I love to exercise. I love to learn. You‘ve heard me say that so many times. EverythingBecky, right? We got the news this week that Steve Jobs died. Along with so many others, I stopped to think about my life and my choices. At the top of my list and the only thing that really really matters are my family, my dear friends and my health. All these other things that I do are to enhance my life.
So here’s what I figured out: when I’m doing my Spanish homework, my brain is concocting chemical messengers and receivers and pathways that weren’t there before or that need more use. Like a new hiking path that hasn’t had many visitors yet. If it’s used frequently, there’s a nice groove. If not, the vegetation grows back and you can’t find it easily. I got so excited knowing what was in that minute happening in my brain that I didn’t feel like I was racing the clock to get through the homework so I could do the next thing. I then was in the right frame of mind to go pick up my guitar and noodle around on it just for the joy of knowing I can move from a C chord to a D chord to G, to E to F easily and there are thousands of songs that only use a combination of some of these chords! I already have some guitar grooves in my brain!
What I’m looking for is not outside of me! I knew that. In fact, I painted a painting and included the words from a Native American elder: You are the One you’ve been looking for. But the lightbulb that went off yesterday is that I already have the hardware to figure things out for myself and that I can relax in that knowing. My amazing brain, my heart that gets touched by discovery of things I’m interested in and passionate for, give me the imagination necessary for creativity.
Sonabai was a simple woman born in a rural village in India who was an amazing self-taught artist, forced as a young bride by her husband to live in total isolation for 15 years inside her remote home. She saw only her husband and her son. She covered the walls of her home with colorful and whimsical sculptures created wholly from her own vivid imagination. She used dung and vegetable dyes for the paint and had never witnessed these animals or designs. When I saw her post-humous exhibit in San Diego, it emanated such joy and delight, her story moved me. Because of her adversity, she drew her inspiration from deep within her soul and today she has influenced many women all over her region to be creative and improve their financial states.
Today I’m going to paint. I already have the instruction of my teachers in my head: get the proportions right, paint thin to thick, dark to light. So I start. I jump in with enthusiasm, then I wonder what I was thinking to pick such a difficult subject, then I find my groove, then I get stuck and walk away. Then I come back and the ideas pour out. Just like Life. And because I already know I’ll go through finding the flow, losing it and finding it again, I don’t get discouraged. It fascinates me. And I’m fulfilled more at the completion of a painting because of it. I guess it’s human nature. If I only did simple projects that didn’t push or entice me I’d be bored. And that’s not an option.
Rolf Gates who wrote Meditations From The Mat said it best: ‘The divine spark, the magic, the beauty that we yearn for, are our own’. I think what we in this country are looking for is fulfillment, and the journey is to realize we had access to it it all along.