Artist’s Eyes, Beginner’s Mind
Every creative process, which is how I think about personal development, has origins. Our starting points vary throughout our lives: when we begin a new relationship, a new spiritual practice, or change homes or jobs. But each new reflects the first few words of Genesis, In the beginning , or, as I prefer, With beginningness.
Consider looking at yourself and your life with new eyes, artist’s eyes, with beginningness. As though you had the ability to start from scratch. To create and re-create any and all parts of yourself with a sense of complete and open possibility.
There’s a lot of imagery about beginnings that have to do with separation: Form from void. Light from dark. Water from land. In the personal, the questions translate differently: Who am I; who am I not? Who have I been; who am I becoming? They all lead to Who am I now?
Think about your life with what spiritual teachers call beginner’s mind, unhindered by old habits, assumptions, and fears. Not oblivious to the constraints of reality, like mortgages or calories. But rather a perspective that says, Yeah, I have to deal with that, and I can choose how I do it. Now and in every conscious moment going forward. The kind of thinking that gives you the freedom to believe you can create your world closer to how you want it to be and feel.
There’s a great Hebrew word, kavannah (kah-vah-nah) that means intention. One of my cornerstone values is the importance of living with awareness and intention. I invite and encourage you to embrace that consciousness.
When we don’t stay conscious we undermine our kavannah. That happens when we jump for instant gratification or don’t listen to our inner/higher voice. The voice that instructs and offers: Here’s a great life. Just don’t do that one act of self-sabotage.
Sometimes beginningness is thrust upon us through unwanted crises: The death of a partner or parent. The loss of a job or home. A tough diagnosis. It takes a different kind of visioning to cope with that kind of reality. Deep resilience and an ability to redefine oneself that doesn’t always include the luxury of time, or too many chances to screw up, apologize, and screw up again. The habituated, recidivist way that I, and many of us, often learn. This second kind of beginningness says: You gotta change now!! It’s the wake-up call with no more snooze buttons.
No one’s expecting you to recreate your world in six days. But this week, ask yourself: How can I look at my life with artist’s eyes and a beginner’s mind? What’s fixed and what’s malleable, both in and around me? How can I make my world a more joyful and nurturing place, for myself and those I love?
If we all ask, listen, and respond, we’ll become part of what Judaism calls tikkum olam, the healing of the world. That’s a story we’re all still working on. It starts with healing you.