Growing comfortable and at ease with something is profoundly difficult for me to do. There is so much in life that is temporary and fleeting. Not to be too grim, but even life itself is profoundly temporary. For me to let down barriers enough to even approach a decent comfort level is a difficult notion to grasp. I have a difficult time trusting myself, let alone trusting others. I’ve made profoundly large mistakes in the past that have hurt others, and burned bridges in the process. While I feel as though I’ve learned from past transgressions, I often find myself looking over my shoulder almost expecting to see some kind of karmic retribution gaining on whatever distance has been put forth or chiseling away at the progress of improvement that has developed in it’s place. I guess I hold on to fear and regret too much. I rationalize it by telling myself that “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” I have grown to hate it. What I have slowly been realizing is that I have a lot of learned behaviors that are driven by some crudely constructed philosophical standards.
Example: years ago, I read a book that had a character that was described as “brilliant”. This character was a huge fan of classical music. The character was so dialed in to analyzing the audio that he labeled his favorite recordings by titling the errors of the recordings. If a single key was off, that is how he would title them. “Mozart Symphony 25, missed note in the 3rd chorus.” This was shown as a example of just how dialed into his passion he was, that he was capable of identifying the most trivial of details in something as complex as a symphony. I decided at that point that that was a GREAT way to view life. If you were able to identify the smallest error in something, it means that you are really in tune with the details and it would give an obvious display to the world of just how much knowledge you have. I started this train of thought when I was 21 and I ran with it for nearly 20 years.
How do you let go of that kind of learned behavior? The same way you started learning it. It’s not overnight though. I’ve been working at it for years and I’ve clearly got a lifetime of work ahead of me to correct the course.
Since I’ve started working on larger pieces (and smaller one’s that took more energy that I expected), I’ve realized that I’ve been becoming attached to a few of the more intricate projects. I nearly always start them thinking that they are terrible, and somewhere along the way they start to materialize into something pretty visually appealing. It’s interesting seeing my own emotions change and ride with the progress that they each make. I will admit that with each piece that becomes more technical and larger, the stakes for personal satisfaction get higher and higher. With the pyrography (wood burning) I often tell myself that if what I am making ends up looking terrible, well, it’s easy enough to sand the canvas down, or just toss the whole thing into a bonfire and erase the mistake from existence. Out of sight, out of mind.
Every so often, though, I manage to finish a piece that I would actually feel comfortable hanging on a wall in my own domicile. It happens RARELY. Generally speaking, the last thing that I want to look at is some crappy piece of “art” that is hanging up like the doodles that my parents used to hang on the fridge. Let’s be real, most of the work I make I can’t stand to look at regularly. When I create something that I can take a sliver of pride in, that’s a rare event that I need to recognize more often.
The more difficult part of the whole process (for me) is putting a price on, and letting that piece actually be sold. It’s a balancing act that I often fail at, but I feel like I’m slowly making progress.
Knowing when it’s time to let go is not my strong suit. I get stuck in endless loops of thought. Indecisiveness rears it’s ugly head and my mind just decides to shut down and turn off. Trying to figure out how to work past it and get to the end is the current dilemma. Navigating the inevitable regret and convincing myself that no serious mistakes were made is a challenge that eventually just burns itself out or smothers itself, but can be a long and torturous journey.
I’m trying to exercise a bit more personal grace with decision/regret forgiveness. As long as it has taken me to learn a particular negative behavior, learning a more positive one might take just as long.
Let it go.