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Keeping Our Center ~ Day 135

I’ve completed four paintings in my watercolor class (again, not ready to share!) It’s a fairly informal class via Zoom every other week. We get started on a painting together and then finish on our own. As much as I try to make my painting look like the teacher’s, I always fail miserably.

Our teacher has such an easy touch about her that makes all of her paintings look simple, yet beautiful; soft, yet distinct. If I were an art critic I’m sure I could say this much better. The other woman in the class has experience with other types of paints and often bemoans the fact that her paintings are too dark. But I see her paintings as bold and life-like, more detailed and intense. I look at both of their finished paintings while I’m trying to finish mine and I don’t know who I want to be! And then it makes me a bit pouty that I’m probably not capable of being like either of them.

I find it fascinating that three of us can work off of the same photo and have our paintings look very different. I don’t necessarily mean that in terms of better and worse, but in terms of color and look and emphasis. It finally hit me that we all have our own style! Well, maybe I’m still trying to figure mine out, but you get what I’m saying. We’re different people, we have different perspectives, different ways of doing things, different likes… and it’s all good!

Writing reflections every day is the same thing. Bill Grimbol wrote for six days for me, and for a moment or two I wished I could write like him. But that’s his style, that’s who he is. I couldn’t do it if I tried. I need to be content being the best me I know how to be.

I’m afraid it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. I know, intellectually, that comparing myself to others (where I am never as good) is simply a recipe for unhappiness. It will immediately take the joy out of learning watercolors if I constantly trade off the fun of learning something new for the misery of not being good enough. Who cares? I’m not going to be another Georgia O’Keefe, so what? The spiritual path is about living fully the present moment. If I can simply learn to enjoy the process of creating then I’ve gifted myself with something precious.

Whenever we begin comparing our artistic ability, our writing skills, our looks, our talents, our accomplishments, our yards, or how good of a parent we are, we immediately do ourselves a disservice. It’s hard to ever win if we’re comparing. And if we “win,” it’s only because we’ve put someone else down as “not good enough.”

One article I read suggested that the only scorecard we need to keep is an inner one where we strive to be the best person we can be. The author asks, “Are you better than you were when you woke up? If not, you’ve wasted a day. It’s less about others and more about how you improve relative to who you were. When you stop comparing between people and focus internally, you start being better at what really matters: being you. It’s simple but not easy.”

Love & Light!

Kaye