July 1, 2013 § 6 Comments
They happen when we’re looking the other way. They happen when we’re at the end of our proverbial rope. They happen when we’re sleeping. They happen when we’re on a roll. They happen when we’re at the gym or out to dinner or listening to conversation or reading a book or contemplating a blade of grass. There’s no single formula for achieving a breakthrough – whether it’s personal or professional, they almost seem to have a mind of their own. It’s as though everything in your energy field lines up and you’re open and – “wham!” – you’ve made a leap.
The one key requirement is that we have to participate in our own process.
I made such a leap many years ago ~ not the only one, but a memorable one. At the time, in my early twenties, I’d been drawing for, well, pretty much forever. For a while I drew anything that caught my eye ~ faces, hands, gardens, animals, old mills, tools, you name it ~ honing my skills, mastering my craft. Practice was my classroom, and it paid off. But I didn’t feel very “creative”.
Then one day I thought I’d do a self-portrait. All artists have one, right? So I got my art stuff ready, figuring I’d probably do a realistic pencil rendering, like I did with other portraits. But something entirely different came out.
I remember a sense of being in another zone ~ I’d suddenly switched tracks, landed in a different groove ~ and I went with it. And I loved what happened. It wasn’t another well-executed drawing, it was a true expression! I had no trouble understanding what it was about, and it gave me a real high ~ experiencing that leap and knowing I’d unlocked a door that for some reason I’d previously thought inaccessible. This was huge, and what had been “trapped”, all that color and passion, was oozing out, freed from its imagined confines.
As an aside, I also remember that my family never liked this piece. They see their daughter or little sister looking “odd” with paint dripping all over her face, instead of the sweet chocolate-loving swim-team captain they knew who drew pretty pictures of roses and barns. I can understand that too. But for me, it was an intensely marvelous breakthrough that really opened up my creative faucets and if I’d had any doubt about my path, it was diminished right then and there by a few marker lines and watercolor streams. My muses had decided it was time.
Like I said, this wasn’t the only breakthrough moment, but it makes my point well. We all have breakthroughs, in different forms and guises, and I hope when they happen for you, that you participate, listen and let them flow.