“It’s about the process, not the product.” – Jen Davis
As many of you know, in addition to teaching yoga for adults and kids, Jen is a great artist. I have wanted to take classes with her for years- and she has offered to teach me many times. But the time was never right, or I never made it a priority, or my “I can’t paint” voice doused any spark of desire that may have existed to create for the fun of it and try something new. Enter: global pandemic.
In my first few weeks of classes, I have not been surprised with a discovery of latent artistic talent. I am not hanging art on the refrigerator (though I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that every time I paint something I want to text Jen a picture of it). But not only do I look forward to Friday morning as a highlight in my week, I find myself spending a little bit of time on most days doing some painting- almost like part of my practice. I look forward to it. Yes. I look forward to doing something I am not “good at” that has basically no extrinsic value. This is revolutionary.
I am learning so much:
- Being a beginner is awesome, once you get over yourself.
- You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it.
- There is so much more freedom and joy to be had when you tell your inner critic that it’s “Quiet Time” and put her in the corner for an hour.
- The application of “process over product” spreads far beyond watercolor paint.
I am reminded of the brilliant Maya Angelou as I write this: “People will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I’ve said this before, and here is is again: What if our impact in this world is not measured in hours worked and goods produced? What would happen if we shifted from what we are doing to how we are doing it in more areas of life? Could we make a greater, more positive impact in the world and in the lives of those around us if we reoriented our attention in this way? This moment in time is providing the space (and perhaps necessity) to do just this.
If we were more invested in the process than the product as we moved through our days, I think we would become more mindful, more kind, more forgiving and compassionate (and whoa, do we need those things more than ever before). I’m finding that these essential qualities arise when you place process over product. They are, perhaps, absolute necessities to engage in the work, or you would likely give up and chuck the art supplies in the bin after one try. When the focus is process, the space is ripe for acceptance, laughter, and going with the flow- and I believe this makes us better.
Daniel Pink suggests that you ask at the end of every day, “Was I better today than yesterday?” I have found the same thing that he has: if the answer is no one day, it’s not likely to be no again the next. And if it is, it rarely goes on to a third. When we hold ourselves accountable for how we are in the world, not what we do in the world, we rarely fail to show up.
I want to be better. I want to take my attention from what I am producing and sink it wholeheartedly into the process of creating, living, being. Losing the ego; not needing to be good at something to have fun; letting go and shushing the judgmental voices in the mind all lend themselves to a lighter and more compassionate way of being. Loosening our grip around being right, letting go of being in control and releasing the need to have the answer are added bonuses. Again, more happiness.
We are all a work in progress; we don’t arrive as finished products. And the measure of a life is created and found in the process along the way, not where we land in the end. We know this already, of course: it’s not the destination, but the journey that matters. And it’s not how many steps we take, but how we walk through our days that matters most.
If you’d like to come (virtually) paint with us, a new session begins on June 12. Even if that time slot does not work for you, register anyway and Jen will send you the class recording each week to create in your own time. You won’t regret it.