Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Shiny, Happy People: On the Value of Not Presenting Our Best

Not long ago, someone asked me, "Why do you post your less than successful work? Why not post only your best stuff?" In the ensuing discussion, I came to understand that this person thought that my tendency to include samples of fibre work that just miss their marks in my blog was unprofessional. Professional people never display their failures, their unpolished drawings, paintings, the garment or tapestry that didn't quite work. We shouldn't see the false starts and discarded efforts it takes to get to a successful completion of a project. To do so is to give the impression that we don't know what we're doing and that just shouldn't happen.

After taking a few deep breaths and stifling my initial, defensive reaction: "It's my blog and I'll do what I want!," I came to the conclusion that this person's reaction was not unreasonable. We live in a time and place where social media allows us to present our best selves, real or imagined, as we omit the mundane, foolish and sometimes embarrassing moments of our lives. (We also live in fear that someone else will be more than happy to post those moments for us.) If we take Facebook at face value, we all live in lovely, polished homes, dine on stylish, healthy foods and travel to exotic places, as we soothe our social consciences by posting relevant click bait of war zones, natural disasters and animal abuse. We know perfectly well that this isn't the case. Life can be complex. If we choose not to dwell on every day ordinary or misfortunes, that's perfectly understandable and perfectly human. What we need to acknowledge is that this tendency to present nothing but our best faces builds false perceptions and unreasonable expectations for ourselves and others.

People are spell-bound by work done to perfection and rightly so. Producing a masterpiece in anything is inspiring and admirable. I'm a process person, though, so that final piece of perfection isn't enough for me. I want to see more of the path that led a teacher to that ability to teach, the struggles with paint and ink and fibres an artist had to resolve in order to attain her artistic goals. I love to see work done by those with passion - those who are not necessarily the best at what they do, but who are forever learning, testing and challenging their limits. I want to see the Beginner, not the Master, or, at least, I long for a glimpse of the Master when she dwells in Beginner's Mind.

I meander down whatever roads catch my attention. I present my failures, my not quite right works, along with my successes. I do the best I can to pull it all together and, if my weaving is not gallery quality, if my writing is unpolished from time to time, if things don't come together just so, that's fine by me. In yoga, every pose has a beginning, middle and end and each of those parts is equally important. If we want to apply our yoga to our lives, then acknowledging each of those segments can only help us grow.

Masks are necessary, but if that is all we display to the world, we'll lose sight of who we are. People will miss out on that shining light that is our True Self. Let the masks slip once in a while. Show some of that less than perfect work. Your Ego may take a bit of a beating, but allowing more openness into the mix will present a fuller, richer concept of the complex, perfectly imperfect humans that we are. Art and Life are messy. Embrace that.

Beautiful, but what lies behind the mask may be just as interesting.
(Google Images, Public Domain)



  1. Yes! I think that's one of the best things about blogs. I have found that most blogs about knitting, spinning, etc. do share the processes with us.

  2. True, Susan, and I appreciate people's open heartedness.