I’ve come to understand that the answers to the following questions are largely the result of what I experienced as a child. Not just how my parents interacted with me, but who was in my life. The make-up of my family, where we lived, the resources at our disposal, that and every other detail of my youth has shaped me in ways that I cannot escape. Not then, not now, not ever.
*Who am I attracted to?
*What do I find interesting?
*How do I take comfort?
*How do I respond to the external world?
*What feels like an impossible dream?
*What feels like a surmountable challenge?
It seems that this is more of a universal reality than an exception: that we are all here to grow. The details of our growth process vary for each of us but we all happen upon feelings isolation when we are following that undeniable urge to advance and go beyond what we have known. When we boldly step out beyond the bounds of where, how, why or who we are; we embark on a journey into the unknown.
In spite of what I began with, I have actually been able to build a life for myself that I dreamed up. It hasn’t been easy and I would not say that I’ve reached the final version of my dream. But when I look around, I must admit to myself that I’ve made notable progress. Today I really must take a bit of time to reflect on that simple truth because it hasn’t been easy. It’s been a stretch. A twenty year stretch. And right now feels like an impossibly big stretch.
It’s at times like this that I need to remind myself of some hard life facts:
Expansion is an integral part of growth. Expansion can be painful and disorienting.
At any point in time we can only go so far from what we know and where we are. If we believe The Impossible Dream (see painting) and attempt to make a huge jump, we can fool ourselves into thinking that we have truly skipped ahead until we realize that while some aspects of our situation have indeed changed, the fundamentals are actually the same – variations on a theme of where we have been before and desperately want to escape.
The good news is that we are all living The Real Spiral (see painting) and that with steady intention and supported efforts we can progress far from where we began. But it is a gradual process that involves repetition and regression and it will probably be painful.
Either way, we bring the past with us into the future. Either way, we die with some of what we started with still in the mix.
I had the idea for the paintings in this post as I pondered my mental state and the words of a client sharing her own memory of the moment that she realized she had duped herself into dreaming The Impossible Dream. Every time I’ve rendered the two ideas and talked about them with someone else, I realize something new. They feel like a wonderful reminder about the growth process that I experience as inherent to living. It’s funny to me that something so simple could give me such a sense of mental relief, but I do believe that these two paintings will serve me for a good long while. It was partly the act of drawing them that felt revelatory. Perhaps you’d like to try it and see if some insight comes to you in the process? All you need is a scrap of paper and something to mark it with.