Disappointed because something did not go as you envisioned? You may want to follow along and find out how I went about transforming my suffering.
Disappointment comes from wanting events and circumstances to be different from what they are while forgetting that the wanting comes from mental constructs we created but are not grounded in reality.
We move through life guided by thoughts and images we acquired and adopted as our own, from stories in movies, books and advertising that our society implicitly accepts as normative.
As such, our degree of happiness is measured on “shoulds” and “musts” that conform to what we tell ourselves is the norm.
The house with the white picket fence; the perfect mate with the perfect children who grow up smart and successful and go on to lead perfect lives, are someone else’s stories. The successful entrepreneur who played with a widget in the garage and became a multi-millionaire, and the bartender who was “discovered” by a movie tycoon are also great stories; just not ours.
When our relationships are “flawed”, when what we experience differs from what we thought, we desperately try to bring them into the perfection story line instead of welcoming them as learning experiences and explore the gifts of growth they offer.
Mired in disappointment, we focus on what did not go our way, and belittle what delighted us.
I painted this 6” x 6” x 1.25” cradled wood when I was learning a new technique. My newbie’s clumsiness with the behavior of the paints and the various mediums involved yielded an uninteresting surface. Colors I thought would pop and provide contrast got buried in layers underneath, unable to rise due to the consistency of my mixture.
Instead of trashing it, I set it aside to allow the paint to dry and cure.
Over the next few weeks, the square block would attract my attention. One day I playfully rubbed gold to add interest to the textural layers, but the art was not yet finished with me.
It would take yet another session, after dismissing all mental constructs about being faithful to the technique, that an important life lesson presented itself for healing and integration. I knew that the lesson had nothing to do with the failed technique.
When the background unhappiness about a recent big project became loud enough, I returned to the art seeking space and ease the anxiety. Instead, my openness to remove the obstacles standing in the way of joyousness allowed the painting process to yield understandings of the blocks I faced outside the studio.
Unexpectedly I witnessed the impact that family and close relationships can have on our sense of success, and I realized that in this instance, I measured my success based on the terms I perceive that my family respects. On those terms, I failed miserably!
As I began adding fuchsia-colored dots, I was able to relinquish the lovely but untrue story about some of these relationships. As dots continued on the sides of the canvas, whimsical white shapes appeared, enabling me to shut off my mind and focus on the clarity whiteness affords. Suddenly I saw the hidden yellows, and by adding more, I was able to visually increase the sense of light I sought with the rubbed gold.
The light may be helpful as I begin to relate differently with the people whose standards I took as my own. White lines may guide me as I learn to measure an event’s success the way I do when creating art: by the joy I feel. And how enriched I am when I notice similar feelings on viewers’ faces!
The painting became this morning’s meditation. In the images I see the vastness of the universe filled with possibility. I still don’t know what the new relationships will look like, including the one with myself. Yet with each colored dot I breathe deeply and release fear. Marveling at each whimsical shape I notice how fleetingly they move and how uncontained they are.
The shimmering gold reminds me that beneath its reflective layer there are still hidden colors clamoring to come through. What needs to be transformed is well-rooted in my psyche, and needs time, lots of self-love and compassion to safely surface.
The art mirrors the gap where I now dwell. As when I paint, it is in nothingness that truth shows up singing a clear tune, and sporting perfect colors, shapes and textures.
Creating meaningful lives need no stories, because truth shows up when we are patient and trust in the perfection of our very own path.
May you decide to transform your suffering by purchasing In the Gap