Yesterday I had a lesson in expectations. I am grateful.
With the South Calgary Art Show & Sale fast approaching on May 10 & 11, I am spending as much time in my studio as I can.
Last night, when I came home from work, my beloved was engrossed in ‘Hockey Playoffs’. I headed to the studio.
It was a struggle.
My mind was roiling about, thinking over a situation at work that is not the way I would like it to be. I was tired. Maybe even a bit grouchy. I was having trouble letting it all go so that I could sink into the joy of simply being present at my art table.
I wanted the time in my studio to be fun. Light. Airy.
I wanted to feel content. At peace. Present.
I didn’t feel any of it.
Instead, I felt the expectations of what I wanted and the contradictions of where my mind was at, weighing heavily on my entire being.
“Don’t let the worries of your day go, Louise,” the critter who likes to slide into my thinking when it knows I’m feeling tired and grouchy and make it all stinky and yucky whispered inside my head. “I mean, really. These are big worries. You need to chew on them some more.”
The calm, loving voice of reason tried to edge in. “It’s okay Louise. Just be present. In the worry. Sadness. Confusion. Disappointment. Be present and let all your emotions flow.”
The critter was having none of it, which was evident on the canvas. The colours weren’t flowing. The bottom part of the painting was a blob of dark, messy mud. “You gotta worry this bone Louise. Sure, you gotta let your emotions flow. But don’t you dare let them flow to acceptance, love and harmony. Joy and contentment. People are out to get ya’. You gotta worry about that!”
I kept pushing the paint. I kept moving it around.
I wanted to give up. To simply throw my hands in the air and say, “Fine. I’m not meant to paint tonight. I’ll just go turn on some mindless TV and veg out.”
The mess on the canvas stared back at me.
Stay or go. Give into the unease in my mind or fall into the flow of creation?
See, that’s the issue.
I know what is good for me. I know what is healing and life-giving. Being in my studio. Being in nature. Meditating. Playing. Dancing. Savouring life.
In times of stress, I sometimes like to convince myself I don’t need to turn up for me. I don’t have to be accountable for my journey.
The canvas never lies.
It reflects my lack of ease, my expectation of it being ‘easy’, my desire to not do the hard, my need to make sense of nonsense.
It also reflects my places of discord, Of not feeling congruent within myself. Like the critter urging me to give up, the canvas resists my efforts to make sense of stinkin’ thinkin’.
I entered the studio last night with the expectation that being there would be a walk in the park. That it would all just flow easily. That I would create a masterpiece without any hard work.
My expectations lead me astray. The critter lead the parade.
And then, I let go and in the surrender, I found myself falling effortlessly into the joy of creating. The result is a painting that is very different than what I expected it to be. It may not be a masterpiece, but it is a reflection of my journey from discord to ease, from expectation to anticipation of what can happen when I let go of believing ‘what is shouldn’t be what is.’
What is always is what is. How I respond, how I journey through life’s inevitable what ises that cause me unease is a reflection of where I am at, how I am in my life. When I choose to surrender expectations of how what is should be, I find myself flowing with grace in the river of life, swimming joyfully in a sea of contentment, beauty and colour.
Life is good.