Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Do You Do With Failure?

Redemption piece in process
Yesterday I failed. My inability to understand what a client wanted trumped the several earnest attempts I made to meet the objectives and goals described. Nine hours in, I made the call to quit. I was simply unable to see what I was doing wrong. I began to realize that I'd never understand his vision and what I was supposed to do. I admitted defeat.  I admitted that the task exceeded my skill set. It was embarrassing for me, irritating and disappointing to him. And he let me know that. I apologized.

SO. Today is a new day, n'est ce pas? Mais, non. I awoke with a killer emotional hangover - the incident consuming my thoughts, boring a hole in my stomach. I prayed. I talked with people who love me. I did all of the stuff that I know usually works when trying to get my mind off something that makes me feel sad, mad, bad, and inadequate. Then I reflected on something that I truly believe. Art heals. Creativity helps.

I began a "Redemption" painting. I have done this in the past to great effect. It helped. As I wrote my thoughts on canvas, I began to get some objectivity and by the last few inches of space, I had the lesson. AT LEAST I FAILED TRYING. I took a risk. I didn't mean to misrepresent myself or deceive anyone. I thought I could do it, but I couldn't. At least I tried. That's the kind of person I want to be. I can't wait for perfection. I work with what I have and who I am now. I'm going to fail. To disappoint.

Now I have a big canvas with black and red writing on it. Time to paint. I can be free with a Redemption piece because anything I do is going to make it more beautiful than what I have on it now! Isn't that great? Washing beautiful color over the stark text is meditative and soothing. Tension ebbs. Spirits rise. Even if the finished piece is not wall worthy, the process of covering a stark failure with gorgeous sweeps of color is worth everything.

What do you do when you fail? What do you do with disappointment? Once the initial finger pointing and blame game is over and you leave the table with your "winnings", your part of what went wrong, what do you do with it? How do you let go? How do you move on? It's easier to say, "Be gentle with yourself" or "At least I tried" than it is to actually take hold and believe those statements.

Try a redemption piece. Put it all on paper or canvas. Then cover it with images and colors that please you, that you find beautiful. Use collage, paint, paper, pencils, crayon or all of the above. Don't focus on the result. Your transformation comes during the process.

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