This is what happened this morning: My Inner Critic has always been my worst enemy, only I didn’t know it; and then last fall I started chanting and meditating, and my karma changed or something. A capsule broke open inside of me and I began producing more energized work, and started owning my skills. Et cetera. Your basic epiphany, size medium. Moving on.
So drawing has been a big issue for me. I draw fairly well, when the winds are right and the gods are satiated, but I have a whole insecurity bouquet about it. One of them has been working with oil pastel, which I tended to turn into an overworked, insipid mess of visual porridge.
Thing is, I hadn’t really noticed that my technique had changed! I know that I got up one day with this drawing bursting out of my seams and just threw it down on the paper. And it worked, in that Material A went to Location B and stayed there despite Challenges C–QQ of making the piece happen around that particular stroke of greasepaint. I drove it, it didn’t drive me. Woot! It was like that night when the clutch went up and the gas went down without my sweating blood over it.
Well, maybe not entirely like that night, because that next morning I had to drive 1100 miles, following the moving van while wrangling a child passenger. If the pastel technique came in the mail, the standard transmission technique was delivered by a divine first-baseman kneesliding towards home, wings curved against his landing.
Why is it that we tend to dismiss the skills we’ve committed to muscle memory and don’t pat ourselves on the back for them? Let’s give it up for walking, knitting, oh GOD driving, using chopsticks and (you just did it) typing! I bet you can add to that list. But we all go yeah, whatever, everybody can do that and some people make my mad skills look really lame, mumble.
I think this is part of the bad Western habit we have of discounting, mistreating, and ignoring our bodies. Childbirth isn’t the only time amnesia kicks in; stop for a moment and remember when you couldn’t do the things on our list–hunting and pecking, ending up with a twisted, grubby third of a potholder, and trying to merge onto the Beltline. Your body has learned a lot of tricks, and since trade-ins aren’t available yet, it’s time we made these tricks socially equivalent to long division, reading, and remembering the names of the people you go to services with. Now there’s a toughie, but that thing you did when you cut up your tofu chop yesterday–woot!
This essay is dedicated in love to Al, the guy who taught me how to tie my shoes.