Thursday, November 12, 2015

Star Spangled Art and the metaphor of Tae Kwon Do

This weekend opens the "Star Spangled Art" exhibit at the Carrollwood Cultural Center in north Tampa. The art work that I saw during installation is moving, and beautiful. The exhibit features the art of military veterans and the diversity of expression is just amazing! I'm humbled and thrilled to be participating with four pieces in the show. The reception is Saturday, Nov 17 from 4-7pm and it runs through Dec 30th. Local authors will be presenting that evening!

I would normally definitely go to the opening, but this weekend my daughter and I are going to our school's Tae Kwon Do camp. She is testing for her advanced green belt and I'm testing for my 3rd degree black belt. We were told to expect surprises!

We've been planning and working for this since last November.

Why do we do this?

We do this not just to attain our next level of "mastery" but to see progression and to work through it. If we practiced martial arts just for the glory of saying we have a certain belt, we would quit afterwards. If I painted and my goal was to win an award for example, I'm sure that I would grow quickly bored afterwards and would quit. Its not the belts or awards that matter, it is the doing that matters. The practice of the art creates giddiness, exhilaration and unprecedented growth, and sometimes mind blowing realizations.

Practicing Tae Kwon Do is a metaphor for painting and for my life. They all inform each other.

I realized that pursuing most things for the short term is usually a waste of time. I know I've talked about goal planning before, but this isn't that. This is doing something with the belief that it doesn't matter how long it takes, the longer the better because you know what? It is hella fun doing anyway. What I just completed level 352? Bring on the next one!

This is accepting that the process is the end game, and that the finish line doesn't exist. And once I went there, I realized that my life would be much fuller, richer and happier if I gave in and looked at it all (my life, myself, my relationships, my work) as work in progress.

Practicing forms in martial arts is a metaphor for how you see yourself.  You've all seen the lone martial artist running through a patterned warrior like dance where only they can hear the music? These are forms or katas. You're not competing against anyone else but yourself and improvement comes over time. What you put into it, is what you get out of it. Sweat equity, my friends.

Sparring with someone is a metaphor for how you interact with others. It is ebbing and flowing with their energy. It is paying attention to someone else's actions before reacting. It is going with the flow. Sometimes that flow includes a defensive move followed by a palm strike to the face. But usually, not.

Breaking boards or concrete is a metaphor for breaking through barriers, pushing through limitations and getting to the next level. This is where you set aside all the "I can't do this!"'es and insert the "I'm gonna cut through that concrete like hot buttaaaah!". You visualize the outcome before you even start.

There are a lot of parallels in art, sports and life. When you are in it for the long run you get to see those rich storied parallels.

I have it in my mind that I will always paint and wind up like Renoir with a paint brush tied to my hand at the end. He painted in a wheelchair until his death and said six years prior "I am just learning how to paint".

I am still learning how to paint and to practice tae kwon do. I hope it takes me a loooong time.

1 comment:

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