Way back in January, when I told a friend about my upcoming trip to San Miguel de Allende to paint, he asked me about the teacher. I confessed that I didn’t know a whole lot about Flora except that I was a huge fan of her work. And then I surprised myself by adding, “I think she’s actually teaching the same thing I do. Only difference is she’s coming at it through painting and I’m coming at it through photography and writing.”
My suspicion was right. When I think about that time in Mexico, I often forget (at least initially) that I was painting every day. What feels most visceral and profound was the metaphor that we lived inside for one whole week. Somehow, through the practice of moving paint around on a canvas, we had to confront all of our stuff. Our humanness. We had to muster the courage to show up in each moment in the face of the mess, of things not working, of feeling like we sucked. We had to battle the voices that threatened to shut us down. We had to trust ourselves enough to keep going. We also learned to relish the joy that showed up unexpectedly, in moments of flow and presence.
I learned to lean into my strengths – my love of color and my confidence – and use those to my advantage, boldly throwing down the most delicious colors I could find without thinking too much about it. It was all right there, all of me, in that one little microcosm of a blank canvas. My fear of not doing it right, my attachment to to the product, my impatience and perfectionism, my brilliance.
Since then I am seeing metaphor everywhere and wondering: Are we all learning the same stuff? Are we all trying to:
1. Cultivate our courage
2. Learn to trust ourselves
3. Find faith in uncertainty
4. Find bits of unexpected joy in the process?
Do we all have a metaphor, a practice that takes us there?
Perhaps you are a gardener and learning faith this way. Or maybe you are a runner and practice courage and resilience through moving your body. Maybe aikido is your thing? Or stand up comedy. It can be almost anything, right?
What’s your metaphor?
In the comments below, tell me what your practice is and what you are learning from it.