I love maps. They represent the terrain of our three-dimensional world on a flat surface. Maps show me the way. They give me perspective on where I’m at, what’s up ahead, and where I want to go. They show me alternative routes so I can decide on how I want to get to my destination. They simplify a physical world. They can help find me a way through unfamiliar territory.
I sometimes long for this kind of guide in my life. I could see what was coming and how far I have to go. I could see alternate routes. I could make plans. I could know when to make my next move, and where.
But, Life has a way of guiding us another way. Sometimes in ways we never see coming, or even want. We have to navigate, change course and alter our plans of how we thought things were going to happen. No matter how hard we want things to go a certain way, we have to go another. Life often gives us a detour.
Detours come up time and again for me when making a painting. I think I clearly see where the thing is heading. And then it’s not. It just doesn’t want to go where I thought it was going, or where I wanted it to go. If I choose to wrestle it into the direction that’s in my head, the more it resists. Eventually I lay down my sword, cover up that area I was struggling with, and then, magically, the whole thing opens up to something new. It leads me somewhere else, and it’s always far better than where I was trying my darndest to take it. And I could have arrived there much sooner if I had just followed it and let it unfold.
We often hear that things are so much easier when we follow our inner map. This map is also called our gut, our intuition, our heart, our Faith, our inner knowing, instinct, sixth sense, what feels right. And we hear time and again that it will never fail us. So why do we often doubt ourselves and keep our hands gripping the steering wheel ever so tightly? Why is it we’ll completely trust a map created my someone else, but we don’t always trust ourselves and follow our own path?
I’m learning to follow my inner map in my art and in my life. When I do this it feels so much better. I came upon this quote the other day “My heart is at the helm and my head is checking the maps." That feels right. I’m going to go with that.
On the road,
“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.”
― Joseph Campbell