There is a photo of the Dalai Lama that I particularly love: he is hunkered down in the passenger seat of a car as a child might be, his hands eagerly clinging to the side of the door, and his face full of wonder. There is such simple and profound joy in his eyes, that I can't help but smile every time I think of it.
I think of that photo almost every day when I sit down to paint. I marvel that such joy could come from something as simple as riding in a car, something that to many of us would be considered mundane and dull. It's a poignant reminder to me to enjoy every piece of my paintings, and every step of creating them. I often feel silly, getting so caught up in the beauty of a particular color or the grace of a simple brushstroke, but I have to remind myself that it's okay to be childlike in my wonder. There's a magic in the quotidian, if we let ourselves see it.
In my younger days, I read a lot of manga, but the only series that I continue to read (or go back and re-read) is Yotsuba& by Kiyohiko Azuma. The premise of the series is very simple: Yotsuba is a little girl living in Japan with her adopted father and experiencing the many adventures of life (such as puddle stomping and ordering pizza) for the first time. My favorite part of the series, though, is its motto: "Enjoy everything." One of my goals every day is to do just that: enjoy everything! From pouring the water for my tea to cooking meals to seeing how the wind stirs the branches outside my window, and everything in between.
Such an attention to detail, a willingness to see the adventure in even the most ordinary of tasks, is something I work had to bring into all of my art. Most of us [unfortunately] don't usually get to go on epic adventures every day, like having tea parties with dragons or taking a hot air balloon around the equator. Kudos to you if you do. But for the rest of us, we have to make do with calmer, more ordinary adventures, like going to the grocery store, waiting at the doctor's office, and the ever-fun game of laundry. But why do these things have to be less exciting or magical than what we read about in books? They're more common, true, but these simple tasks have a beauty all their own, I believe. There can be something very peaceful and zen about folding laundry or seeing produce at the market arranged in colorful stacks. So the next time, you're feeling bored or "normal," take a moment to appreciate the quiet beauty of the world around you. Find grace in even the most minute of movements. And above all else, cultivate gratitude for all these small moments of magic; after all, no one else sees the world quite like you do.