I recently started painting (above and below), something I have never done before, and barely entertained the idea of. This has spurred my curiosity about my “future” as well as stirred some fear over not-knowing. Though I have had many shifts in my personal, work and artistic lives, I am always taken off guard when a new one appears, seemingly out of nowhere. I wonder why it is so emotionally loaded for me. I realize it is because I worry I will stop doing other things I have grown accustomed to assuming I will keep doing. Why do I care? Because there is a belief that the other things will get me somewhere/thing I need. They will lead to success. This is where my mind goes when I have been in a trend of activity I like. I become fearful of its disappearance.
I am so sure I need to continue doing the things I have been doing. This intrigues me, this presumption of imminent victory if I stay in one direction over another (even if my past demonstrates otherwise). The fear of failing is so strong that when I see myself giving attention to a new activity, my thoughts whip around a belief that I will lose something valuable, forgetting that life naturally runs on impermanence, shifting and changing all the time. This is somehow never a part of my general thinking, rather permanence is the default mode.
Being that we are wholly of nature, things are supposed to change in many directions, and we commonly witness this phenomenon. Nevertheless, at least for me, that mindset doesn’t stick. This makes some sense as there are many things in our life that cruise along seemingly not changing much (so we are easily tricked), even though they are always fluctuating incrementally, imperceptibly, like day into night and vice versa.
My worry, fear and anxiety are caught up in my expectation of permanent permanence. But I think it would be more useful to become emotionally invested in the unknown. Since it is clear to me that our behavior is driven entirely by nature, i.e., natural, physical laws, this doesn’t have to be so challenging. I can get very excited by the prospect of waiting to find out my real path of future actions. This thrill can be fleeting, as it is often overridden by my attachment to what I believe I should be doing, but when I tap into it, I get a real charge from the knowledge that there is a true natural design to my life, and that every move I have made thus far was part of that picture. Though it has felt, in retrospect, that I voluntarily caused the things I did, I know that isn’t true. Even just knowing that before I did any of them I didn’t know I would is enough proof for that statement. None of my actions have ever come from the thoughts I had prior to their materialization. Those thoughts were only guesses.
What I love about this awareness is that I have done many interesting and creative things in my life that I liked a lot, and “I” didn’t cause their existence or think them up with some inner power. The behavior simply emerged. It was only in retrospect (as I’ve written about before) that my mind took credit for their developments. We don’t really consider, in our usual way of thinking, that such a thing could be true, that great things could come out of our body without “us” personally imagining them into fruition. But, nature provides us, not infrequently, with good luck and creations of which we feel very proud.
What interests me the most about life’s organic process is the specificity of the actions each of us produce. This is the mystery I enjoy and would like to get more emotionally attached to. It is my practice to not only know that what I do is right (because nothing else is physically possible) but to be regularly tickled by the remarkability that there will be very specific things I will do that I would have never imagined. This quells my intense curiosity at what those things will be and satisfies my wanting mind in getting the answers it so obsessively insists on. What will I do in the rest of my life? I would like to become emotionally invested in the unknown rather than the pain.