The Art of Letting Go

Right behind my house is a small building. From the outside it may look like any garage, filled with old gardening tools, a lawn mower and miscellaneous do dads. But when you open the french doors you walk into an open room. There’s a high ceiling finished in wood slats. Two skylights that let the afternoon sun fill the room. The whitest white walls come down to beige tile floors. This is my shop.

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m an artist. When my creative button is turned on, this is the place I am on my days off. My husband built this space for me as a my own art shop. It’s funny, that it’s here i’ve learned most of the lessons we speak so much of in a yoga class.

Imagine a lovely fall evening, we could be having one now so you may just have to look out the window to see it. I’ve been in my shop for the past 8 hours, working on a section of a collage. Now the thing about my collage work is that I use catalogs for my paper. Anthopologie & Free People to be specific. My Mom, friends and other family save their catalogs for me too. Even so, I usually only ave 2 -3 of each catalog. So when I find a few pages with a pattern or color that I like, I have a VERY limited amount to work with. Moreover, once a piece of paper is cut and glued down, that’s it. There’s no moving it. There’s no trying again.  There’s no using it someplace else.

For 3 of the past 8 hours I’ve been working on one section. Carefully cutting and glueing. Everything is in this 4 x 4 inch space. I make sure every piece is laid with precision and is in line with the image as a whole.   There was also the hours it took me the previous day of flipping though the mass of saved catalogs I have to FIND this color and pattern, which goes with all the OTHER colors and patterns I have found to make up this one image.  Not only do the colors and patterns have to go together, but there has to be ENOUGH of each one to fill a section. So if there isn’t enough I have to go BACK through the piles of catalogs and find SIMILAR colors & patterns to complete the section. 

I stop, take few steps back and a sip of beer. This is when the thought come into my head….


Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck. It doesn’t work. Maybe I can MAKE it work. 

I spend another hour cutting and glueing. Step back, more beer. 


I am now standing in a spot I have been in many times. I have put so much effort into this one thing. Wether that thing is a section of a collage, an assumption about a friend or a co-worker, a political statement, a religious belief.  Experience has now proven me wrong. What do I do? Do I hold on just because I’ve put so much effort in? And you know what, it HAS been a lot of effort. 

I feel fatter because I haven’t worked out. Nothing has has been put away in my house and I haven’t done any laundry. The “yoga” smell from my laundry basket has permeated everything in my bathroom. And at this moment there is nothing but condiments, liquids and artisanal pickles in my refrigerator. I mean they’re fuckin’ delicious, but do you have ANY idea how hard it is to make dinner out of that?!  Everything else Sacrificed because I was working on this one thing, all of this because I put all of my energy here. To make THIS one image whole.  And now, this one thing now has the AUDACITY to not hold true. Well FUCK that. Its gonna Work damn it. EVERYTHING else is just gonna have to shift. 

I’ve worked too hard.

I grab my beer bottle with a dramatic flourish, that’s really only for myself, and storm out of my shop. Slamming the lights off and the door shut.

I almost immediately stop and feel silly.  You know those inspirational memes people share on Facebook all the time?  Most of my friends on Facebook are yoga teachers so my feed is lousy with them. Every other post I see is something meant to spark your inner fire, but for me, they mostly fall into a cliché mush.  So when one pops into my head, sunset over the sea background image and all, I stop. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn” 

Damn it.  Yes, even I rolled my eyes at my brain for conjuring this image.  But even in my mini rage, the message can’t be denied. 

I turn my feet around on the short path between my house and my shop and walk back. I open the door, turn on the lights and sit down on the floor. All around me are my piles of catalogs. I open the nearest one to me and start flipping through. I gotta find a new truth for that section of me. A new pattern, a new color, a new thought. 

It’s not the thought of my whole image being better that stopped me before. Its the work that proceeds it. The thought of sitting right here, on the cold, beige tile floor for hours on end finding what works. The thing is, I DO always find what works, I just have to be willing to let go of what doesn’t.