June 5, 2014 § 2 Comments
Breakthroughs. Aren’t they great? Like clouds parting, the sun bursting through, we see with refreshing clarity, we understand what had been elusive, we discover something previously hidden, we step forward with renewed vision and vigor. The mire behind us. The mountain climbed! Ideas tumble crisp and clean. Insight sharp and heightened. Pieces fit with remarkable satisfaction.
Defined as “an act or instance of removing or surpassing an obstruction or restriction; the overcoming of a stalemate”, breakthroughs are typically associated with things like science and engineering, technology, negotiations and diplomacy, war and peace.
Einstein comes to mind. Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, Jane Goodall, Amelia Earhart, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Galileo Galilei, Alexander Flemming, Leonardo DaVinci, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Mahatma Ghandi, Margaret Mead, … the list goes on. They’re all pioneers, masters of discovery and exploration who achieved life-changing breakthroughs.
But what of us mere mortals who haven’t found our way into the history books? Our “instances of surpassing an obstruction” are just as valid, even though on a personal level (which, of course, is where they all begin…). Our breakthroughs may not change the world; just ourselves ~ our way of thinking, our way of producing, our direction, our relationships, our world.
Yet as we break our barriers, we affect the world immediately around us, whether we know it or not!
That said, I can recall several breakthroughs in my artistic life, and it never occurred to me that anyone might be impacted but me, myself and I. And for the most part, I still hold onto that belief.
But, as any of us become more confident, or satisfied, or spiritually or skillfully elevated, it changes us ~ and that change is bound to show, in some way, in our outward demeanor, in our actions and behaviors, impacting those around us if only by sheer interaction. How much or little, we may never know, but it’s there.
In any event … my own first memorable breakthrough came in first grade when swarmed by classmates asking me to draw pictures for them. Most requested, next to a clown, was a drawing I did of a girl’s face whose main attraction seemed to be her swirly-whirly hair-do. This was very neat stuff.
Later, at the ripe old age of 9, I entered a national poster contest. I remember working very hard on my drawing of a fawn, which I’d chosen to represent the prescribed theme of protecting our environment, and I remember my total surprise at winning, and I remember feeling really proud.
After that, while going about the business of regular growing up stuff, I basically honed my craft for a long time, enjoying the steps of refinement along the way.
It wasn’t until my early twenties when perhaps my biggest artistic breakthrough arrived ~ in the form of a self-portrait. This one caused great alarm among family members who were used to my straight-forward, more realistic pieces. They didn’t like it. At all. But I was ecstatic! It was a huge moment. Unforced, un-fussed over, and oh-so-liberating. It was no longer just skill, it was skill + expression; for me, a wide river crossed. And without a conscious intent beyond “doing a self-portrait because that’s what artists do”, the result was a near perfect expression of all that pent-up creativity rising colorfully to the surface.
Since then, more new doors have popped open in the ever-evolving landscape of creative expression. More breakthroughs, some minor, some major, sprinkled like fairy dust along a path set in motion long ago, a seemingly natural course of events ~ with its own timing in place, I might add! You can even start to feel them coming after a while ~ in fact, I’m sensing one coming up here real soon…… so stay tuned!
But enough about me ~ you’ve surely experienced some of your own. Maybe after a long, deliberate, concentrated effort. Maybe they seemed to form out of thin air, when you were focused elsewhere. Your breakthroughs might be far and few between, or bunched together, firing away one right after another. But however they show up, come they will. They’re a culmination of your experience, and they help shape your future, your choices, and your way of being.
And when the moment arrives, it’s a notable shift. A mark of progress. Light and bright and “yessssss!”