Seek your own Truth. Wisdom is perspective. Be fierce with your Love. Peace is a state of mind.
These are the central words that form the basis for this work, this sacred square. Still working off the base 8 trigrams of the I Ching, or Book of Changes, this work adds not only words, but also Chinese symbols, or calligraphy for the four cornerstone ideas of truth, wisdom, love and peace. Again the color scheme is red, black and white. The shapes are predominately the square and the circle, earth and heaven respectively, but there is also the triangle in the form of the four “arrow” lines that emanate from the center. These could be looked at as the four cardinal directions, or the four corners of the earth.
As for the text in this work, there are two parts. First let’s look at the words that wrap around the four arrows. This is really a work about expansion, about growth, about leading a more creative life. About leading the life you want to lead. By creative, I don’t necessarily mean a more artistic type of creativity, although that may be what you are called to. I believe that every day, in so many, many ways, we have the opportunity to choose to live more creatively. Whether it is in engaging in a more creative way or manner with our children, our coworkers or our loved ones, it is embracing a more creative life. And really, to do that, is simply the choice to be a beginner. To be willing to be bad at something. To be willing to fail and still enjoy the process. This is often the greatest difficulty we face as adults, it’s what keeps us from trying something new, from being creative. The fear of failure. The fear of looking bad. The fear of being laughed at. Children, especially young children, don’t have that fear. It doesn’t come to us naturally. Young children have that curiosity which drives them, they have beginner’s minds. They want to explore and try everything. As time goes on though, we tend to withdraw from that exploration. Our “adult” mind kicks in and we don’t want to look foolish, or like we don’t know. But yet, it is only in the willingness to be a beginner, to look foolish that we explore and embrace our creativity and in effect, the world.
The words in the arrow are as follows:
“Living a creative life requires choices.
A willingness to be a beginner.
A willingness to fail and fail again.
A willingness to be bad at something.
A willingness to be vulnerable.
Because vulnerable leads to open.
Being open to possibility is essential
to choosing to live a creative life.”
And that is quite true. To live creatively, to live in exploration and curiosity, is to embrace being a beginner. To embrace allowing yourself to fail. Because there really is no failure. There are only moments on the path, on the road. One thing leads to another, one act feeds the next. The problem is we tend to withdraw when we don’t get the reaction we hoped for. We tend to curl up and lick our wounds when we are made fun of, or laughed at, or utterly outright rejected. But there is very little possibility in withdrawal. Very little chance to grow, to expand, to live the life you want to live. An empowered life. A creative life. A life that makes a difference. For yourself. For others.
And we don’t often like being vulnerable. There’s risk, great risk it seems to opening ourselves up to potential rejection and ridicule. But vulnerability is key. It’s essential really. To living in possibility. The possibility of love for instance, is only truly achieved when we become vulnerable. When we open our heart to the other. You can live a life of protecting yourself from rejection, from ridicule or just from being laughed at, but it is not a very rewarding way to live. There’s not a lot of possibility there. It’s closed, not open. It’s limiting. And for what really?
What does it mean if “they” don’t like your work? What does it mean if “they” laugh at you? It means exactly what you make it mean. You control that. You choose that. No one else. You get to choose how you interpret the world and everything in it. I propose that it is far better to choose to be open, to expand and move forward rather than make rejection mean the end of your exploration. Pablo Picasso once said that the hard part of being an artist was remaining one when you grew up. He was right. We tend to shut down that child like part of us as we move into the adult world. Shame on us. For that child inside us is the light that guides us to living a more fulfilling life, a more creative life. That inner child will always choose possibility. Of love. Of life.
Let’s take a look at the four groupings of words that appear in the red border, shall we?
“Seek your own Truth.” For me, this means to follow your heart. Follow that which gives you the most bliss. To do the things that give you joy, whether you’re good at them or not. If you practice, if you keep getting back on the horse, you’ll get better at it. The first time I planted flowers, they all died. I over mixed the fertilizer. Burned the roots up. I could have stopped right there, but I really like planting flowers, I like playing in the dirt, so I did it again. And again. Some years, I have better luck than others and sometimes stuff just doesn’t grow well. I still plant flowers, I still play in the dirt. Your truth is yours and yours alone. What do you want to really do? What gets you off? What can you do for hours and hours and not realize the time going by? What never feels like work? Be willing to be a beginner again, to fail, to laugh at yourself and get up and do it again. Not everything is your masterwork. Life evolves and so do we. One thing leads to another, one thing informs another. If you’re looking for perfection, you will have a long, hard search. Better to strive to deliver damn good prolifically than to worry about perfection. In anything you do.
“Wisdom is perspective.” We really only learn by doing, by attempting, by being willing to be vulnerable, to be open. Whether it’s a relationship or gardening or cooking. And the ultimate wisdom is to be open, to avoid contracting, to avoid curling up in a self induced “protective” cocoon to avoid the sting of rejection. It’s all about choice. And choice is all about your perspective. And your perspective is what you make it all mean. It is wisdom to follow your bliss. It is good wisdom to explore and create. It is wisdom to embrace your heart and be fiercely loving in a world that needs more of that. It’s all perspective. What do you make it mean? It might be wise to make it mean more empowering things don’t you think?
“Be fierce with your Love.” Be willing to be vulnerable. Be willing to be open and courageous with your heart. Be willing to put yourself on the line and love those and that you hold dear with a fierceness. A total commitment. Don’t hold yourself back in an attempt to hedge your bets. Go all out. Whether it’s a cooking class, a relationship, a painting…. go all out, be fierce with your heart. Fierce love destroys fear. It shatters it. Fierce love creates amazing possibilities for yourself and those you love. Don’t be deterred by the past, by old rejections and hurts. Rearrange the meaning, recognize that every step we take on the path is essential and leads to the next step, the next place. Share yourself totally. Give of yourself without reservation. To the ones you love, to your life, to your work, whatever that may be. Be fierce with your love and follow your bliss. Grab it. Squeeze it and wring every drop from it you can. This life is not a dress rehearsal for the next one.
“Peace is a state of mind.” Many of us say we want a peaceful life. Many of us search for a way to have more inner peace. I believe that while you can find many, many tools and techniques, many ways to help you achieve just that, what we’re really talking about is achieving a state of mind. And that can be done in a second. That is a choice. A choice you will have to make repeatedly, over and over. You don’t magically “fix” yourself. It’s not machinery that, with the turn of a screw, will now operate “properly”. It’s a state of mind that comes from continually choosing empowering thoughts and actions. Peace comes from being fierce. Peace comes from living in your truth. From embracing that which is truest for you. Peace comes from doing. From living in possibility. When you are embracing possibility in all areas of your life, when you are pursuing your dreams and desires with fierceness, you will create a state of mind that feels peaceful. It is only when we are not being true to ourselves that we experience non-peace. This can be the vaguely dissatisfying feelings, the nagging pull on our metaphysical sleeves, or it can be outright depression because we are not following our true nature, we are not being true to ourselves. We, in essence, are living a lie, at least to some degree. Follow your truth, use your wisdom, be fierce with your love and you will have peace. And a lot of other things too.
“Truth • Wisdom • Love • Peace” is a digital work printed on archival paper measuring 24″ x 24″.
I hope you enjoy the work as much as I did in making it. Hopefully it can serve as a reminder to embrace that creative life.
Yours in creating the possibility…
P.S. As always, thanks, love and respect to my beloved Zen Girl for her unwavering support, her fierce love and her willingness to be a beginner.