Beginning Again

“Always we begin again.” Benedict of Nursia

Expectations + Perfection = Disappointment

This jewel box of colors brings me great joy. Mayan Red, Tuscan Yellow, Cobalt Blue. Every part of the process – opening the box of watercolor tubes, squeezing them out onto my tray, choosing the brush, and brushing them on to the paper is a great pleasure.

This is a new phenomenon.

Twenty years ago I studied watercolor for a couple of years, pretty seriously, while at university. But when in graduate school I found I needed to focus exclusively on my course of study and I let watercolor go. And then it let me go.

I returned to it recently. But I struggled to re-learn the technical aspects of the media. I was very critical,

Expectations + Perfection = Disappointment

even mean. And then it wasn’t fun. I was wondering, do I just quit? When I found a book by watercolorist Jean Haines about meditating with paint. The aim was to just have fun. To open up and lean into the intuitive chance qualities of water and color on paper. No aiming for content, or creating ‘art’, no striving for perfection. Instead, change my expectations, let go of an outcome I can’t control  — aim instead for exploration and yield to joy.

Expectations +  Experimentation – Perfection  = Joy

So here’s the thing. Life is all a big adventure, a big research study into the nature of what makes you happy. That difficult thing you’ve wanted to do?  Throw away your expectations. Instead, just let go. Pay attention to the parts that bring you joy. And go with that.

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