Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Letting Go, Hard Work and Watercolors

"Letting Go".  We've all heard about this little gem before, as in the process of no longer allowing thoughts to run around in one's mind.  Simply, stopping thinking about things that hurt, upset or confound us.

Simple, right?

For me it is anything but simple. It is a constant process that I must work on to stay sane.  Or as close to sane as I am going to get.

Intuitively, I realize that continuing upsetting thoughts serve little purpose, but I can always find reasons to reexamine my thoughts and behaviors.  Somewhere I hope to find threshold between careful self reflection and insane musings.  On one hand, I want to be the best that I can be.  I realize that no one is perfect, so I try to look back on my own behaviors and see how my own actions led up to a particular situation.  Could I have worded things differently?  Should I have done more research and asked more questions before I made my decision?  Should I have seen that one coming?

Another angle to this issue is that I am a firm believer in hard work paying off.  Part of that belief is because I do derive satisfaction from a job well done.  I enjoy the learning process and I feel that when I learn something new it carries over into other areas of my life, my brain, my knowledge base.

So how do I accept "letting things go" and not see it as "giving up"?

This is the million dollar question!

I know that I can only control what I do and honestly, I have to work at that!  I can not control what others do.  This is a very hard lesson for me to learn.  I can't seem to accept that people don't want to do the "right" thing.  Like King Arthur, I am under the belief that "Right will Prevail" and that if others can understand what is right, they will act accordingly.  But, I am beginning to see that that is a childlike belief and that isn't reality.

One way for me to look at this and try and understand it a little better is to equate it to watercolor painting.
When I paint with oil paints I am the master of each stroke.  When I paint a thick glob of red, I understand that the amount of pressure I use, the brush size and shape, even the texture are determined by my choices. So, if I want red on the canvas, RED GOES ON THE CANVAS.

But, when I paint with watercolors, all bets are off!
The beauty of watercolors is that they have a mind of their own.  The terrible thing about watercolors is that they have a mind of their own.  (Sounds like people, huh?).
If I paint with red watercolors -- oh my, anything can happen.  If the paper has more water than I expect the pigment runs around the wet surface.  If parts of that surface have dried, the pigment doesn't want anything to do with it.  If there is already pigment on the canvas and I add the red -all hell breaks loose!  I can't predict exactly what will happen.  And that is the beauty or the drawback of watercolor painting.

So, how do I know when to "let go" and when to continue to work at things?
When I paint, I do things again and again and if I still don't like the result, I toss it away.  Do I remember all my mistakes?  Honestly, no.  I like to think that I remembered the process that caused the results that I liked or didn't like.  This way, I won't do them again or I will, depending on my desires.  This is learning!

Transferring that to everyday life is the challenge.  How do I know when it is time to toss the failed artwork?  How do I know where I went wrong without re-examining my actions?

Hmmm.  There is no easy answer.
Some things are easy and don't require rehashing.  But, some things, I can't get out of my head. For now, I am giving myself permission to rethink things up to 3 times.
After that, I redirect my thoughts away from the topic.  I carefully work to change the subject in my mind and think about other things - like how to get that watercolor to stay red!

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