Art & Mystery

Stepping Back to Go Forward


August is the worst month in my third floor studio. I rarely wander up the stairs into the suffocating heat, which means I don’t see my paintings-in-process for several weeks. I have to admit that I miss them and begin to look forward to working with them again.


When the temperature breaks in early September, they surprise me greatly. They look very different from how I remember them. This one is much better than I thought it was when I stopped working on it. I can see immediately what my next steps are for another one. I have gained some distance and can look at them with a fresh eye. I can see a clear path out of what was muddy mess a month ago. I approach the easel with more confidence and respect for the painting and the energy it is manifesting.


It is like that with any relationship, whether with another person, parts of yourself, your work, or even the Mystery. Sometimes you have to walk away and engage your attention somewhere else before you can gain some perspective and return.


In many esoteric traditions, our whole reason for being, for incarnating over and over again, is to gain that perspective. The universal divine becomes divided for the sake of union. We dissolve and congeal from union to separateness back to union. And each time the universe learns more about itself at the finest level.


Think about all those times in your life when things seemed they were in a hopeless mess. Your brain went round and round and never got any closer to a solution or resolution. Instead, you got caught in whirlpool vortex of suckage that mired you down. What a relief it would be to walk away from all that for a while, to just go and do something that restored your faith in beauty and goodness in the world. You don’t really need anyone’s permission, but if it makes you feel better — you have mine. Go. Do something else. Shoo. (Hint: My favorite way to get away is to take my kiddie crayons and cheap paper to the park and color abstract shapes without thought or intent.)


And when you come back, observe the situation and check in with yourself. Open yourself to the possibilities of thinking and feeling about what you are doing in totally new ways. I have found that, when I return to the painting, I can open to its energy. I have the clarity to see what needs to be done and the courage to go a completely different direction if I need to.