[This is a painting I did of Catwoman, but what it is really about is the moment Michelle loses her mind, trashes her apartment and starts sewing her cat suit. She snaps. Casts away all the crap that she had previously let hold her hostage. Just beautiful.]
Currently, my battle is with perspective. Adjusting my personal perspective to envelope a wider sense of self, enabling by brain to detach a bit from the everyday stresses I get tripped up on. The more I get tripped up, the harder it is to see the big picture. Without the big picture, its all just toil.
Right now I have this awesome pair of doves building a nest outside my office window. The two of them are perched up at the top of a brick column, pushing about the gathered twigs and whooshing back and forth with new supplies. The entire reality of the birds is to build the nest. They have no concept of the building, the roof, structural joints. They don’t understand square footage, heating and cooling. Not that they aren’t the wiser, and arguably, better off for it, but just that there is so much more outside the bubble of each of our own perspectives.
Another example of how powerful perspective can be is how we CREATE fear and how utterly base-less and fabricated it really all is.
So here’s a slice from my 17 year old world…..
The High School, art department announced there would be a small art scholarship from one of the community artists guilds. Each art student had to put together their best work in a huge folder and drop it of at one of the guild member’s homes one Saturday morning.
I was a wreck. A total wreck.
I spent days selecting the pieces I was going to include and then hours on hair and makeup. Finally getting myself out the door, I drove over to a small house in North Andover, Massachusetts. Although it was wrapped in quaint landscaping with that very-precisely-painted-white-cottage-look New England is famous for, the house might as well have been the Temple of Doom. Shaking, I rang the door bell and was invited into the dining room to drop my art with the other applicant’s pieces. I heard the funeral march in my head as I made my way to the dining room and laid my work on the heavily polished dark wood table. The sunny yellow tulips of the centerpiece laughed at me as I looked at all the other artist’s folders piled high already.
I was to be judged. I was to be cataloged. I was to be ranked on a scale of One being Hopeless and Ten being Art God.
And I’m sure she never noticed that my lipgloss matched my painstakingly selected sweater because I felt it made me look together. Whatever the hell that means.
Driving home from the drop off was surreal. I imagined winning and I envisioned loosing. I began counting the hours until the pick up the following day and when it finally arrived and the guild member answered the door, I remember clawing at her face with my eyes for a giveaway on selection feedback. No such luck.
A week later they released the results. I didn’t win.
I just kept thinking about it – why? Did I track mud into the house? Do I suck? Should I just pack it all in right now? I just applied for art school – should I retract my application? Traumatized by the event, I began dreading my decision of going away to college. Would this be what life was like every day? I built a pretty thick mega-cocoon of self doubt and depression that lasted many weeks and almost derailed my art career. If I couldn’t win a local scholarship, how would I ever make it in art school?
When high school ended about a month later, I took up a job as a nanny for the summer and worked about thirty hours a week for an awesome family in the town next door. I drove the kids all over, we rode bikes, watched cartoons, and generally had a pretty good time. One afternoon the mother informs me that a family friend with a pool invited us to spend the day swimming as a change of pace.
The address she handed me was the Temple of Doom.
Driving up to the same house I had mentally puked all over only weeks before with the kids in the car blasting the Lion King soundtrack could only be described as the sensation of watching a glacier groan and crack. A moment when you completely destroy a huge idea or perception that you had built into a larger than life reality. This exact spot on the planet was both the creation and obliteration of a mental bunker I was being held hostage in. I was given the opportunity to re-write my perception of a series of events and therefore re-write my perception of judgement, my own value and my decision to go away to art school.
I couldn’t change the outcome of the scholarship decision, but I did have the ability to look at the very same scene from a different point of view and kick myself for making out to be such a huge deal in the first place.
The house was beautiful, and the guild member was lovely and not at all the putrid, rotting zombie corpse beneath executioner’s robes that I had made myself once believe she was.
When I sign up for competitions now I remember that experience. A judge is just a person with their own likes and dislikes, problems and loves. This isn’t about them, it is about me. And when I remember to, I choose to be cool with it.
There is nothing frightening or negative about any process unless you perceive it that way.
That, and I purposely peed in her pool for not winning the scholarship, which made me feel infinity better about the whole experience.