Sneak peek. This is going to be so beautiful when it’s done.
But what *is* “done”, anyway?
Is “done” achieved when one reaches a certain point, and the gradually emergent gestalt (one of my favourite German concepts: “something such as a structure or experience that, when considered as a whole, has qualities that are more than the total of all its parts.” More, well worth your 1 min read, at https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/gestalt) signals to one’s subjective aesthetic eye, right at THIS point of perfect balance, “Stop. It is done.”?
Described that way – and this is exactly what it feels like for me, when I colour my way through these mandalas – then yes. I can empirically report that there does exist a certain, very subtle point reached, impossible to explain or quantify (the explanation coming ‘a posteriori’ as an accounting-for, rather than ‘a priori’ as a means to force the taking of that “stop – it is done” decision) that I constantly feel out for, in the flow of each mindful colouring moment, with my full awareness and all my accumulated aesthetic experience and discernment brought to bear in powering the full light of that awareness.
This is especially important when I’m considering the tiny, tiny dots and slivers of colour; I thrill, truth be told, to these precise moments. Because, like the sprinkling of a particularly piquant spice, when placed just right in full sympathy to the wider context – a little does indeed go a long way. (The colouring of that middle green in the first pic is a live example. I took this pic deliberately to show you “before” and “after”. What a difference it makes! The two completed brown diamonds above I find so beautiful they practically sing out to me in joy.)
This is also important in light of the fact that I deliberately leave certain parts “uncoloured”, at point of “done”ness. Any idiot can tell you, “duh, it’s done of course when you finish colouring in all the bits and there is nothing left to colour.” There is truth in that, too. But that’s a smaller truth, not a bigger one.
This brings me to ask again, what *is* “done”, anyway?
Because the other way of answering this question – a much subtler, more abstract way, but for me equally valid as empirical experience, being the creator in the process of bringing this piece to life – is to say, “it could be said to be ‘done’, at so many different points along the way.”
This is in fact exactly how it feels, too. It is a weird simultaneous feeling of “I could so happily stop right here and leave it as it is and declare it complete…as much as I could equally happily go on overlaying the next layer of pattern, and weave it one more level of complexity. Which would have its own distinctive claim on objective beauty, but not one that could be said objectively is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than the simpler, plainer one.”
Beauty in eye of beholder. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. And that is what makes it so fun, too. To good-naturedly argue with a fellow enthusiast, and in so doing, partake of the delicious delight of sharing our unique and complementary perspectives, thus mutually enriching each other along the way.
And this second, “there are countless moments and stages when one can consider something ‘done'”, may not strike you as such, but it has immense practical importance to me as a guide to others in living out their full potential.
Because -life- itself is a metaphorical canvas, like this. And because there is such harm, such harm, in the widespread narrative that there is “one” way, there are “right” ways, to pursuing one’s path towards fulfilling one’s potential.
If you don’t believe me, just stop for a moment and think about yourself. To whose drumbeats are you marching, as you pursue your everyday tasks and priorities?
Where did those ideas come from?
Just because they are so common, doesn’t mean that they are good. Or *true*. You’ve got to decide that for yourself.
And that means starting to realise that you, too, have exactly the same power as me. To choose whichever colours you like. (I was inspired by autumn, for this one, and the recipient’s predilection for dark green – for this is my wedding gift to them) To start to attune yourself to what you want this picture to look like, to feel like.
To allow yourself to have fun. To go through the agony of multiple decision-making, weighing risks, not knowing if you’re going to spoil what you have already created.
To go through that, and feed yourself the relief and delight, when things work out amazingly. To make mistakes along the way, feel the sting of regret, feel your way back to calm, open yourself to serendipity, and trust your own instinct and emerging skill, to be able to weave that intrusion back into the whole that will be beautiful anyway – even if it was not quite what you originally intended.
Then, to pick up another piece of paper, and repeat the process. But I can guarantee you one thing, because I have already experienced it myself. If you’d learnt the lessons inherent in those earlier attempts well, you cannot help but find subsequent attempts easier. Better. More joyful.
And so you progress.
I have been given this leitmotif of “The Roads We Take” to ponder about last week, in a wonderful and deeply meaningful initiative that I will share more about in good time. I am beyond thrilled to be asked to contribute.
At the same time, a particularly dear friend called me a “pathfinder” in a private message last week. So this meditating on the way we each find our own best truest paths forward is very much on my mind.
And whenever death comes my way, which could be tomorrow for all I know, it is a thought I no longer have any fear of. Through all my self-work I can honestly say it only brings me a sense of some annoyance (“damn! I was just getting started”) at the same time as a sense of acceptance (“so my life is ‘done’ here, huh. Okay. That kind of sucks. I could **feel** I was on my way to reaching THAT point of completion. But I guess this seeming incompleteness serves a bigger purpose.”).
Because, since we by definition live lives forever “incomplete” in some way or another anyway, practicing how to be completely content with this present level of “done”ness is exactly the same thing that allows me to fearlessly bring my *very best* to my NOW.
Which is going to be exactly the same thing that, one ‘now’ leading on to the next, will step-by-step bring me to THAT point of “doneness” in the future (i.e. a fully-fleshed legacy left, the fruit of a long life’s worthy labour, that endures for the greater good long after this short temporary lifetime has ceased)… should I have the great good fortune to live on to that point. 😌