Monday, June 06, 2011

Not Knowing and Releasing Attachment

Not Knowing
acrylic and paper, moleskine

Life is a mystery.

It is an unknown.

Even if you make plans and believe you know where everything is going, there never is a guarantee.

But you've got to keep trying. You have to have faith that everything is going to work out in the end, or if it doesn't work out, that you learn enough to make the failure worth while.

I like art when I don't know where it is going. Sometimes, when I get too secure in my artistic vision or technique, I feel like I am stifling. I like the questions that are embedded in my creating. I like the results of chance that happen when my brush goes over the page and changes a shadow or silhouette. I like how different colors react against each other. I like being able to consider whatever is happening on my page, taking it for what it is and working to make it more pleasing or more meaningful.

It is hard to do this with life sometimes, when you are expecting certain outcomes and then you don't get them.

I think this is the Buddhist concept of releasing attachment, and it has always been a difficult one.

We think we should have THIS result.
We don't get it.
We are dissatisfied.

What if instead, we live life in the way we go about creating a painting:

Have a rough idea or sketch in mind.
Pick up a brush and take action.
Step back and look at the results.
Decide if those results work for you.
Take action to either change or accept those results.
Move on to the next step.

No railing against fate. No fighting with other people about not getting what you want. No resentment or feelings of failure. Just acceptance of what is. Action without anguish. Moving forward.

It seems like a life lived without attachment, accepting the what-is, would be a much more peaceful kind of life.

But I do believe that releasing attachment requires that you have quite a bit of faith. You have to trust that in the end things will come out all right. That you will be all right. And even if you don't have a guarantee in the results, you need to have enough faith in yourself to believe that you will be able to handle whatever happens next.

Maybe that's why releasing that attachment is so hard, because it is hard to have that kind of faith in yourself.

Oh, and I know that being an artist is not as easy as all that, too. I know that it is hard to release attachment and have faith in our ability to create something beautiful and moving. I know that some artists will burn everything that they have ever created because they are so tortured. I know that when we create, we are also fighting all our demons at the same time. It's interesting to see how creating art can be such a mirror to living life. And I'm glad I get to practice living in my creating. It helps me see the living part with just a tiny bit more perspective.

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