I like when new information makes an impact on something major in your life in a way you didn’t expect. For example, there is one book I read recently called “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,” by Shunryu Suzuki which starts out with a very important lesson based on the title.
It goes on to explain that the beginner’s mind is the best mind to have in zen meditation, because it keeps you focused and open to great growth in mastering your mind. The basic lesson is that one should always approach meditation as if one was a beginner, even when one could say one is experienced and even accomplished. I think this translates into everything in life. When we approach everything with a beginner’s mind, we are open to learning and seeing things from a more objective perspective. The beginner’s mind learns at a more rapid pace. When we are experienced, we can sometimes have the “been there done that” mentality, often closing ourselves off from valuable insight and without knowing it, lose some of the love and raw enjoyment in what it is that we do. I’m sure you’ve had the experience at least once in your life when you learned a valuable lesson from someone you wouldn’t have expected had much to offer. How narrow minded that is, isn’t it? Why do you think that happens? I think it’s because we often think a little too highly of ourselves. Being experienced and accomplished is a great thing, but not at the cost of forgetting where you started and the open enthusiasm you had for whatever it is that you do. When a beginner starts in a particular endeavor, he/she absorbs information quickly and can’t seem to get enough. When we open ourselves up to this “beginner’s” mentality, we start to see things freshly again and most likely, anything you thought you knew, you will see with a bit more depth than you had before. It’s quite an eye opening thing. And it makes you enjoy what it is you do much more. That’s another part of the reason why I’ve come back to basics in my artistic pursuits, doing studies, drawing in my sketchbook more regularly, drawing for the sake of drawing and going to open figure drawing classes again.
So many artists start to lose the passion for what they do when they become professionals. It’s easy for work you love to become much more about work than enjoyment after a while. There is a misconception out there that being an artist is always fun or that work you enjoy is always fun. Working as an artist has never been pure enjoyment. It’s really often a lot of hard work. It doesn’t always go easy and you have to sometimes just grin and bear it when you produce something you aren’t happy with, but have to present anyway because of a deadline. This calls to mind how it always seems I’m having a bad night at open figure drawing when someone walks around the room to see how my drawings are turning out. Never fails. And I always want to turn the page to a better drawing to prove that I’m not always that bad.
Anyway, that’s something big to think about, right? Open yourself up to being a beginner again. See what unfolds.