All my growing up years of being an art student, it was always with the attitude of being a learner, with the acceptance of the unspoken rule that assumes I don't know and the teacher does. This at least sets the stage for openness to receive new information, which is a great thing.
I remember painting class in college, enjoying and prospering from being there with "beginners mind". Recently, I've taken up drawing and painting again. My teacher, Bárbara generously offered to come to my house to see the work I've been doing prior to our first class in her studio so that she could see what I'm working on and producing and where and how she might be most helpful to my development.
She considered each piece silently with much consideration and finally would offer some suggestions in a complimentary and respectful way. One of her suggestions had to do with her perception that certain parts of a couple of the paintings stood out in ways that separated them from the rest of the piece. She advised me to lower the tone in these parts so that the colors were more equal in intensity compared to the rest of the piece.
With my background in graphic design, I found this surprising and counter to my training, whose instructions were around the importance of being aware of and creating visual hierarchy in each piece. I told Bárbara this, but she disagreed and I agreed to comply with each of her suggestions - this was "art" after all, not graphic design.
Dutifully, I changed the brilliant almost chartreuse green of the abstract flower pot to a more subdued grass green. I had been a "good girl", checked the task off my list, and rehung the painting. Similarly with the other piece, I muted the yellow star at the fist of the up-reaching figure to match the hue of the blues in the background.
That was three months ago and since then I have taken down and re-touched the green and the yellow three times, ever the open-minded student, exploring. This is good. I honor myself and this attitude.
Today, however, I paid attention to my persistent quiet grief for the loss of the outrageous green that so vivaciously contrasted the hot red-pink-orange floppy amaryllis petals. Today I honored the sad feeling of having given myself away each time I glimpse the powerful figure reaching and connecting with the force of the Universe only to conduct a dull yellow starburst of energy, rather than the brilliant explosion of yellow-gold which is my experience.
I didn't even take the paintings off the wall this time. I reapplied a fifth layer of paint over the pot and the star - returning them to their original brilliance. And so I ask myself: at what point does the student know enough to listen to themselves and do what they like and know and feel and prefer?
That's where I arrive at "It's all good, It's all right," because life is that impossible-to-permanently-define waving fabric of energy. Yes, it's good to be a student and arrive with open mind and heart, available to learn and grow and change. And, we are also designed at some point or points in our lives, to become authorities. Maybe not over others, but certainly and at least some times, in the realms of our own lives. Breaking away from rules, from the structure of paradigms we've agreed to follow loyally is at some ironic moment, our purpose and our task. This is where all innovation, genius, and even religions come from: someone's original idea or their own take and twist on tradition.
Philosophically, there is no "always be the student until a certain point" and "always be the authority after some certain other point." And there is no mistake in choosing to be student or authority in any given situation. Each choice will lead somewhere, will afford us some experience. As I learned on one of my Healing Quests when I was a practicing Hopi: There are no mistakes, only consequences.
Of course there are always questions like, "Does being the student/authority in this situation serve me?" The learning and questioning can go on infinitely. Believe me, as a stalwart perfectionist, and a current re-wirer of my limbic system, I have realized that the questions can go on forever, seemingly with great purpose and importance. I have discovered, however, that they are creations of my mind and like toys, have kept me occupied, but truly lacking in essential value. In other words, optional.
So, life's a game. That's all and that's it. We can't help but play, and since we are the creators (at least this is the illusion,) and there is no right or wrong, I feel joyful and scared as I step tenuously onto the waving fabric of "the matrix" as if stepping onto the court and saying, "I'm in."
Robin Rainbow Gate
I help people midlife and beyond to find their inner power, health and well being through slow, conscious living
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