Karen: Things we can control and things we cannot
We are still in a transitional period here in Southern California. Some days are in the 70s, others are in the 90s. Fall has officially been here for several weeks, but it still feels as hot as midsummer. Weather reports say that this weekend, when I go to the Pasadena ArtWalk, it will be in the mid 70s — beautiful — but truly anything can happen and all we can do is make the best of it and be thankful that torrents of wind and rain are unlikely.
When I visited Evanston, Illinois this past summer for our daughter’s graduation, the weather was beautiful for our entire visit. But a week later, at an art fair in town, winds tore up the booths and sent some sailing several stories in the air. I felt so badly for the artists at that show. For many exhibitors many months of work were wiped out in an instant.
The point is, some things, like weather, for instance, and the actions of others, are out of our control. We can make ourselves miserable trying to anticipate all of the contingencies and prepare for them, or accept that things happen and not try to second guess how we could have made things turn out differently.
For you creative souls who are busily making art for shows and sales, or preparing manuscripts for submission, there always comes a moment of second guessing before or after an turning point. For a juried art competition … did I submit my best work? What if the editor doesn’t like my pitch — or received three similar ones this week? For an art show … “If only I had brought that still life/moody landscape/sensitive portrait that I left at home. I saw someone buying one like mine — that’s what customers must want! If only, if only …
Of course, this sort of thinking is just folly. Just as there’s no way to predict the vagaries of wind and weather at the micro level, there is no way to predict human behavior at that same micro level. And you can drive yourself to distraction trying to guess what others want. All you can really do is create what YOU want. And to try to do it as best you can. You cannot control outside events, try as you will. But you can learn to adapt to their consequences.
In the words of Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius: “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”