LEARNING TO SEE #16: Solutions Require Testing

This wood pattern made me gasp, and also shined that little light at my feet.I love this series! (Learning to See) And yes, I reread my older articles often, because a) I forget that I wrote them, and b) I often have to relearn my life lessons. (Thank you for the fabulous quote, Melinda LB!)*

Today’s theme is a familiar one: Me trying to figure out every project production step in advance.

Guess what? That has never, ever worked for me. (Surpriiiiiiiiise…)

I’ve had a project in my heart for years. The theme is “migration”, and I want to use it for my horses, bears, oh, and fish. (Okay, I don’t think bears migrate, but maybe they used to…?) (And “migration” is a more beautiful name than “rambling around the continent in a bunch.” Shorter, too!)

Originally, I saw these as herds mounted on long, narrow planks of wood, even imagining them as museum installations that traveled around corners.

Now, I’m collecting driftwood from the California coast, and grapevine wood from vineyards. (Grape wood is actually kinda hard to find, because it’s the heart of the grapevines that produce wine. And the pieces you can buy for reptile pets are pretty pricey.)

I’ll drill holes for metal or wood rods to hold the critters, arranged to create a pleasing composition. (Which I know will drive me crazy: How many? How close to each other? How tall?? OMG WHAT AM I DOING???) But that’s down the road.

Because I was caught up in how to position the driftwood.

Both sides look good, but which side will be up? At first I thought, well, the flatter side, of course. But it turns out a) very few of my pieces even have a flat side, and b) both sides will work, and be stable.

And that’s where I got stuck. Again. (Or as we say in my family, “Uh-gain”, when my now-adult-but-then-toddler son back in the day requested me to sing the same song over and over and over and over while riding in the car.)

After delaying for a few more years, I finally decided to simply start cleaning, sanding and Briwax-ing the wood chunks.

And that’s when today’s “aha!” moment happened:

One piece that really baffled me (beautiful on both sides) gave great clarity, because the colored Briwax I use to color and wax wood, revealed a beautiful wood pattern I couldn’t see before.

And that side was obviously going to be the “up” side!

Once again, once I can get moving forward, with trail-and-error and wait-and-see, I find more insights and easier decisions to make, by simple starting.

I hope that if your personality is anything like mine–tending to ‘perfectionism’, holding back til the entire path ahead is clear, trying to solve problems in your head instead of simply experimenting–then I hope you find a little clarity and support here today.

Sometimes the project of our heart does need to be set aside, until we can do better, get clarity, hone our skills, figure out what went wrong. Sometimes, it can take years to understand our life journey more fully, to view our “bad” decisions now seen as fortuitous ones, our hardships teaching us powerful insights that can take a looooong time to get clear on.

And sometimes, we just need to start. As Anne Lamott said in her book, Bird by Bird, all we need is a little light shown at our feet, so we can take one step forward in life…

This wood pattern made me gasp, and also shined that little light at my feet.

And in the work of our heart.

*Melinda shared this with me when I shared how embarassed I get when I have to rediscover something I’ve already gotten clarity on: “I love my life lessons! I love them so much, I learn them over, and over, and over…”

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

6 thoughts on “LEARNING TO SEE #16: Solutions Require Testing”

  1. Hey LuAnn!
    Just thought I’d add my two cents in that polar bears do kind of migrate in some places as they « converge » near Churchill Manitoba each fall because the ice forms there first due to the fresh water rivers that also converge there! Not exactly a migration in the classic sense I suppose but convergence is a great word anyway… Hope you are well!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I too fall in love with pieces of wood, leaves etc that I discover on my nature journeys.
        And I love the way art dialogues with me. It’s not just me imposing my will on the materials.

        Liked by 1 person

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