A memory popped into my head yesterday as I was going about some pretty banal household tasks. It was of an old art project that I worked on about 33 years ago whilst in sixth form, (senior high school or pre-college for those of you not familiar with English education systems). It came up as clears as if it was yesterday, because the theme of the art project was very familiar in my current life and had similar energy and insight to a meditation I had done earlier in the day.
The inside looking out.
I had painted a picture of life at the time. It was a watercolour of a room with a view. The room was warm in colour and filled with comfort and cushions, safety and security. To all intents and purposes though, it was flat, lifeless and a little lack-lustre. Beyond the window at the centre of the composition was the glow of incredible light and life and what felt like adventure. Perhaps it was the glow of bright lights and a big city, or perhaps it was the beckoning call of enlightenment and spiritual magic. Whatever it was, I knew I was on the wrong side of the window. On the inside looking out.
Is life guiding you towards a big shift?
Life can often feel like this when your soul is guiding you towards an upgrade, a big strategic shift beyond your own comfort zone to be more exact. Feeling like that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with where you are. It doesn’t mean that you are ungrateful for the safe and comfortable life you have created, it simply means that life is a journey and you are meant to keep moving towards the light.
What was even more striking to me about this memory was the realisation that I had art teachers around that time, that taught me some amazing lessons about life that have endured. It’s more about this story that I want to share than the actual journey beyond the window.
That flat feeling
Mr Agar, was an incredible influence on my life. He left me to my own devices in creating the water colour… at least up to a point. Just when I thought I had finished it, he asked me to describe what was going on in the piece. As I explained that it was like being held apart from the life that was really calling you but still being comfortable with the one you’re in, he asked “Why did you paint it?”
Unsure of his question I began explaining the thought behind it again… he cut me off short and said “No. In an art studio filled with every medium possible, you chose a flat pice of paper and paint. Start again. This time make it 3D.“
The reason for my art was mine alone… it didn’t matter to him. It mattered that I limited my expression of it to the tools I already knew and the safety of what was familiar.
When life mirrors art we should be thinking in three dimensional, full 360 degree panoramic technicolour and a way to experience it from every angle, shouldn’t we? At least that’s what I want to encourage you to do inside The Grail Temple membership.
I had been given an amazing opportunity to create art. We each are given an amazing opportunity to create our lives too. Are you creating more of the same flat, drab watercolour when you could be building as high and as deep as you’re reaching wide? Shouldn’t you be using every medium at your disposal and even inventing a few new ones along the way?
What is it that makes us stick with what we know and at the same time yearn for something more spectacular? More spiritual?
Do it 10x bigger
Art teacher number 2: Mrs Malallah (I’m told it means child of God… how beautiful is that?). Similar story but with a much different approach and subsequent reaction.
Mrs Malallah recruited me as on of her favourites after I worked with her on an enormous mural for The Children’s Hospital in Sheffield. I gave up every weekend to do that work and as a kid that was a big ask. After that though, she had this distorted expectation of me. I had won a national competition the year before to have my self-portrait tour some galleries around the country in an exhibition of children’s art. That’s where it started really, but after the giant mural she required that whatever the other kids did, I had to do it on a scale 10 times bigger! She would acquire huge 6ft x 6ft boards for me to paint and I don’t mind telling you, I hated being singled out, scrutinised, criticised, pushed and cajoled into “more, more, more… bigger, more detailed, add texture…” One day though, the whole class were given a single sheet of A3 Paper each and 30 minutes to draw a picture of “our choice.” No guidance, no demands, no greater project or theme, just whatever we wanted to draw.
I chose to draw an owl with beautiful eyes and multi-layered exquisite feathers. I loved every minute of this self-expression. When our 30 minutes were up she wandered around the room and commented, complimented and discussed each student’s art. When she got to mine however, she looked down her nose and said “An owl? Is that it?” It’s perfect simplicity offended her. It’s beauty and intricacy escaped her completely.
What she had meant when she said, 30 minutes to draw absolutely anything we wanted, was: absolutely anything as long as it was what she approved of. It was not my choice at all and she had no hesitation in showing how disappointed she was in a child who was just learning to express herself through her art.
A tale of two teachers
One teacher showed me a world beyond my own limitations and the other showed me a world where I was expected to live within hers. Both brilliant artists in their own right. Only one was a brilliant teacher.
The two lessons I want you take from my story are these:
- Your life can be so much brighter and fuller than you believe is possible if you learn to break through your own perceived limitations and embrace your inner-creative potential and outer resources.
- There are always going to be people who want you to conform to their expectations and will attempt to diminish your light if you do not fulfill their desires.
These two things are fundamental lessons that are evident in the Principles of The Grail Path.
Your life can mirror art in so many ways… but let it be your art, your way. Your life, your way.
Love from Jo xxx
P.S. Get access to the 7 Secrets Ultimate Guide to Self-Love & Sovereignty here