Learning is the best. I love that we, almost quite literally, are born into this world as blank canvases. Short of all of the pre-programmed stuff, like breathing, the drive to communicate, recognizing basic needs like hunger, etc., we're kind of just little worms ready for programming. From learning to walk and forming sentences, to learning ballet and multiple languages, our capacity to learn is nothing short of astounding. We go from zero to infinite possibilities over the course of our lives, and THAT, is the coolest. I also believe every time we learn something, we evolve, and that's our gift, and our choice. We have the choice to evolve, simply by learning.
1. the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.
2. the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
I'm down for both definitions, but for the purpose of today's blog, I'll focus on definition #2.
Like I said earlier, we are born into this world as little human worms; squishy, immobile, and lacking communication skills short of cries and coos. But over time (if we're lucky) we learn to make noises that sound vaguely like our caregivers' speech. We scoot and crawl, and eventually teeter on our own two feet. We speak more clearly, and build our vocabulary out of words that we learn to read and write. Walking becomes second nature, followed by running, skipping, hopping, and jumping. We can use our brains for critical thinking, and articulate ourselves verbally, physically and through the arts. This evolution happens because of learning, and it isn't limited to words and walking. We can evolve in all matters of our lives, mental, physical, and spiritual. And we do it all by learning.
Learning takes practice. No baby gets up and just starts walking. They have to repeat a long series of trial and error before they are able to expertly walk. Their brain has to learn new ways of communicating data between their internal body and their external environment. They train and fine tune their proprioceptors and vestibular system, so that they can understand physically where their body is in space, what action is required, and finally, how to call upon the body to maneuver about their terrain. And they do this by falling down, and trying again. A lot. This is what Jimi Hendrix did with the guitar. He practiced, learned from his mistakes, and evolved. This is what Julia Child did with food, Hemingway did with words, Aretha Franklin did with voice. Learing and evolving.
This is painting for me (and a number of other things like meditation, yoga, relationships). Am I saying I'm on a Hendrix level of painting? No, absolutely not. But I could be. And I'll get there if I continue to learn and evolve my skills. Often I find myself in a bit of a painter's jam. So, I look at books, or do a Google search on techniques that I'm interested in. Or I study other paintings and try to dissect what I see in their brush strokes. And I experiment. I "waste" materials. Pads and pads of paper, stacks of canvas, bottles of paint and ink have been sacrificed in the name of my self taught art education. I use quotations around the word "waste" because these materials will never be displayed on walls or turn out an income. But they're not truly wasted. They're a part of my evolution as an artist.
I get pretty jazzed by this concept. That in the beginning of my days I didn't even know how to hold a pencil, and now I'm imagining and producing paintings. I found what feels good and chose to focus my energy into it. I chose to practice and learn and experiment and evolve my craft. And I have this power to evolve in anything. Anything. Throwing my hands up and declaring "I can't," is just silly. Of course I can, and so can you.
As I mentioned before, I'm really working on evolving in a few areas of my life. I practice yoga and meditation pretty much daily. These typically are the most challenging for me because I'm pretty good at getting distracted. But they're also the most important things for me to practice. I find if I really put in the effort, evolving my meditation and yoga practice aids in evolving my personal relationships (especially the one I have with myself). And when my relationships are jiving, practicing art becomes effortless. I'm not as hard on myself to "succeed" with a painting, or with anything for that matter.
Anyway. We all have the choice. We can sit and say "I can't" or "I don't know how" and remain stagnant where we are. Or, we can choose to evolve. We can be brave and curious and try and fail and learn. And I ask, how are you evolving?