The Robot I paint today shouts. “Persist!”. I’ve been thinking a great deal about Persistence the past couple of weeks. Presently my head is full of ideas, and yet the completed paintings are not matching my intent. “Almost there.” I say to myself. “Who’s painting and for whom?” I ask myself. “Don’t give up.” The cheer leader voices encourage.
We all go through bouts of un-ease and doubt. Taking a stand, partnering with desire, and mustering courage to persist in the face of adversity, even when self imposed, can carry us through. I’ve come to understand doubt and tension as part of my creative process. Attaching to the ‘good and bad’ of a project or berating myself for the time a project is taking, or being driven by the incessant need to be better than; comparing myself with those who I feel have it together at the moment, are all ways of self sabotage and can be difficult.
I’ve learned simply to persist in these moments. Walk into the studio. Pick up the brushes. Make the mark and begin.
For me persistence is holding a cocked bow. The act of holding the loaded bow and having the courage to take the shot is ‘persistence’. The willingness to pick the bow up, balancing the arrow between finger and string just so, and taking aim while surrendering to the shot over and over again are components of persistence.
I do my best work when the target is in site. However if I allow the constriction of having to make the shot, hitting the target, or wallow in self doubt I will cripple myself and trick myself into not showing up at all.
Showing up for yourself, as Natalie Goldberg speaks about in Writing down the Bones in her book on writing, is important. To persist means we commit ourselves to an action and “continue firmly or obstinately in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure..”
Persistence holds patience and action: the success of the act is the continued action, simply this. Persistence is not goal oriented per se it is bound in the acknowledgement that we have chosen a course and we will continue on that trajectory no matter what. For me painting is my spiritual practice. I show up for myself. This is what is important. All else usually will fall into place when ‘I’ stay out of the way. Sweet evening All