It was another lesson learned in paint.
Back in the Cascade Mountains, everywhere I turned there was the majesty of nature and the promise of artistic opportunity. Surely in the midst of all of this beauty, my fingers would have no choice but to become one with a paintbrush and intimately coerce every blank canvas into it’s own brilliant creation. The first day of class my instructor was already trying to sabotage my vision. There in front of me were the instruments of my doom. Our instructions were to take one of our precious white paint boards and experiment on it with various textiles and tools. If I remember correctly there were sponges, wire mesh, and masking tape to name a few. All sorts of folly stood in the way of my expectations for the day. Did he not realize I was there to produce serious works of art?
Everyone around me seemed wholeheartedly devoted to the endeavor. Had they glanced my direction even for a moment they would have seen the rapid deterioration of the relationship between art and myself. The spark of the artistically divine that had only moments ago lived within me began to flicker and fade. We were that married couple, together for years, but drifted apart with nothing left to say. I stared at my painting with a pained expression and it did nothing to console me. It was as if we were silently asking, “How did we manage to get here? Is this truly the best we could do?” I was defeated.
With unceasing calm and confidence, my instructor strolled through the class eventually winding his way to my easel. I don’t remember much about our dialogue. My anxious brain will often function minimally, omitting anything it deems overwhelming or additionally distressing. I do recall launching into a lengthy explanation about disappointment with my painting and possibly the activity as a whole. I will never forget my teacher’s patient reply. “Not all paintings are masterpieces.” He said, “Sometimes a painting is simply on the way to another painting.” I think about that all of the time. Some paintings are on the way to other paintings. There are days on the way to other days. Often roads will merely lead to other roads.
It was years later when I finally began coping with that truth. Knowing that life would not always be a masterpiece did not compel me to let go of my drive for perfection. I was too proud. And, I was afraid of mediocrity, of failure. Sometimes, I still am. In those moments, it is helpful to remember that in this life there are two committees.* One is The Results Committee. The members on this committee have a clear understanding of what is best for me, might even know what my future holds, and often decide my fate. My pride takes one look at me and is quickly convinced that I am obviously qualified for membership to this committee. When in reality, I lack the skill set and expertise required to join.
No. My place is on the second committee – The Action Committee. The role is simple. I seek guidance from The Results Committee. Based on their instruction, I suit up and show up. I do what is asked and required. I trust them to know what is best for me and admit that I am not often privy to that information. To the best of my ability, I carry out my duty and let go of everything else. The outcome might not be a masterpiece but it will be what I need it to be. For that I can be truly grateful.
I ask each of you to consider a few questions:
– Who is on The Results Committee of my life?
– Do I have a mentor(s)?
– Do I have a spiritual connection?
– Where do I seek out wisdom and truth?
– How do I let go of the outcomes in my life? Or, do I?
– Am I the lone member of The Results Committee today?
*I wish I could credit the individual who first taught me this concept of the two committees in life. Sadly, I do not remember. Whoever you are, know that I am indebted to you. You permanently changed my outlook on life.