Now that I have nearly mastered painting (as evidenced in my drunken kangaroo and Chiweenie (aka “the Rat Dog”), I am sure you are wondering what goes on in the mind of an artistic genius.
You’re in luck.
I’ve decided to share this with you – and completely free of charge:
First, I sit with a pencil, a glass of water, my assortment of paint brushes, my gouache paints and the paper. The magic commences…
Oh God, I can’t…I just can’t draw this monkey/llama/dog/cat/kangaroo…I wish someone would draw it for me and I could just paint it. Like a coloring book, but with paint, not crayons.
Oh no…I cannot mix paints. I wish these colors all just came in the tubes – ready to go. I’m no good at mixing colors. They never come out the way I want. Wah…wah…wah!
Ugh, I have to paint that fine line? How? How does anyone paint such straight/smooth/exact lines? Its. Too. Hard.
Surprised? Yes, I knew you would be. Even great artists can be wracked with self-doubt. But we just go on and do it.
It is called “courage,” grasshopper.
“Don’t expect applause.”
– Pema Chodron
I was waiting for my car to be repaired at Discount Tire. Waiting at the counter, sitting on a tall stool, was a girl of about six. She was coloring in her coloring book. Her little brother started to walk up towards her. He must have been four or five. Anticipating his height, she pushed the stool next to her closer to the counter and he was able to climb onto it. She resumed coloring. He didn’t say thank you and she didn’t anticipate it.
“Don’t expect applause” means don’t await thanks for what you do. And do not do kind acts in hopes of having people like you. Be kind for integrity’s sake.
We are at the Ikeda Theater, waiting to watch Itzhak Perlman. We’re in the nosebleeds section, despite paying several hundred dollars. But this is Perlman. You can’t put a price on this.
Who comes to sit right next to us, but the girl and the mom who were so rude during summer symphony camp! I had set some gifts for the teachers and a sweater on my seat and came back after lunch to find them removed. “Mrs. S.” was sitting in our seats, her tripod and fancy camera all set up to capture her princess in her quartet group. She had placed my possessions in “lost and found.”
I was fuming.
And here we are now. It’s funny how feelings can come to surface again.
Deep breath. This pain is ego. You cannot fight ego by resisting it.
This is called “practice” or meditation. Be mindful. Be aware. And let it go.
People are talking while Mr. Perlman is playing. Let it go.
It is not always easy.
I’m sitting with my husband and my daughters who are dressed in their finest clothes. They did their hair in fancy dos and they feel special because we are taking them out to see Itzhak Perlman.
I choose to enjoy the evening, moment by moment.
I just listened to a great podcast with Brian Johnson and Ryan Holiday (The Ego is the Enemy). One great take away (out of many) was the idea that using purpose as fuel for motivation is much more powerful and longer lasting than “passion.”
Often, you’ll hear that you need to find your passion. And that the passion will ensure that you reach your goals. But I’m sure you’ve had days where you didn’t feel that passion and then….you find yourself watching TV or Internet surfing or going out for drinks with friends instead of working on your “passion.”
If you focus on your purpose instead, your motivation goes deeper.
Let’s try an example. Let’s say you feel your passion is music. You practice your instrument and tell yourself that, at last, you’ve found your passion. At last! Now your life has meaning. You practice every single day, happy to be known as The Musician. You audition for a group and you don’t make it. What? But it’s your passion. How could this happen? You practice some more. Audition again. With each rejection, your resolve fades. Maybe this isn’t what you’re supposed to do…maybe you aren’t passionate enough.
But what if you tell yourself that your purpose is to play your best music and bring happiness to others through music? Yes, this is my purpose, you say. So you practice. You audition for parts and you do your very best. You don’t make it. That’s okay, you say. I’m going to keep playing and I’m going to play at the Alzheimer’s home each Saturday, because they always enjoy it. With each audition, you get better. At last, you make it. But you have felt joy all along, because you knew what your purpose was and it was detached from ego.
Purpose is more pure and more enduring than passion as a motivator (but there’s nothing wrong with having both)!