Friday, December 28, 2012

197/365: Twelve Epiphanies

art journaling my learning in 2011; mixed media on watercolor paper
Today I made:

time to revisit old lessons learned...

e.piph.a.ny  noun
 1. the manifestation of a divine being
2. a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence.

The time I spend making art, and reading and writing about creativity has been a time for  reflection and making sense of things. I have had some delightful epiphanies over the past couple years of this creative awakening of mine, just like the 2nd definition states. Some epiphanies come in the form of ideas that move me through the creative process while making art, and sometimes they come as a spark of understanding about something that I'm supposed to create in my life. Every once in a while, something clicks and informs my next action. At the end of last year, I began the tradition of journaling the year's "aha" moments that had the greatest impact on my life. 

The frustrating thing I'm finding about some of my epiphanies is that I often lose them soon after I gain them. Even when I’ve journaled about my insights (or made art about them), it often feels like the understanding is just out of reach when I most need to apply it. It's like trying to recall a great dream you had upon waking up, and you just catch broken glimpses of the feeling. How do I make the learning permanent in the face of doubts and fears that try to override what I was once so sure about?

As I read over my 2011 Lessons Learned, I find myself chuckling at how many of them have resurfaced as little struggles this year. It turns out that I'm still just learning to use the tools that I thought I had under my belt. It has all just been a practice. I am still an absolute beginner. Still I'm glad I documented last year's lessons, as it provides evidence that I've reached that level of insight once, and I'm confident I can do it again.  

I know from teaching that just because we "learned" a lesson doesn't mean we're going to know how to apply it when an authentic test in life comes our way. Life, I'm realizing, is just a series of lessons presented to us repeatedly under new circumstances. We must recognize the lessons we learned, decide on the strategy best suited to navigate the situation, and see it through despite doubt and frustration. So many things to remember! Maybe that is why I feel like I’m reliving the same dilemmas and having the same conflicting thoughts over and over again. It’s not that I wasn't paying attention or that I didn’t learn from my mistakes. It may simply be that I have yet to bring my own meaning to the situation in a way that allows me to internalize with true understanding. 

Having experienced the creative "flow" as an artist, I also believe that an epiphany is a little like the first definition. Art making is manifesting divine ideas, which makes it an ideal time for learning. When we surrender to our intuition during the creative process, we form a connection with a divine creative source that guides us on the path and makes us say, "Aha, that's the direction I need to go with this." Perhaps when we learn to trust our epiphanies in art, we become better at applying them in life.
Either way, we are constantly evolving as we create our mental and physical landscapes. This evolution is learning.

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