Trust the Process


The most useful phrase in the English language: trust the process.  I find that I repeat it to myself quite a bit when working on projects that are more difficult, complex, and time intensive.  I found myself saying it multiple times yesterday, working on a portrait of a beautiful young lady.

When I was young - a teenager - I had no concept that there was a process to be trusted.  I remember embarking on a drawing and giving up on it as soon as it didn't look quite right. The paper would be crumpled up and tossed in the garbage. Unfortunately, I had not yet figured out that there are multiple stages to a creative project, and that sometimes, it doesn't come together in a way that is pleasing until the very end.

In a lot of ways, life is very similar.  We are all going through a process to become happier, healthier, and more harmonious human beings. (well, maybe not all of us, but certainly, a great majority of us)  We go through a series of learning episodes, moments of great despair and challenge that inform and enrich us.  It is especially hard when you are at the lowest of the lows, and you can't see beyond what is sitting in front of you.

If I didn't have multiple experiences of working through a painting that appears to be a piece of junk in the early stages, I would be throwing in the towel (or, in this case, the canvas) 90 percent of the time.  It is very rare when a painting pops right away.

One of the benefits of a life well lived is that we have been through the wringer, some of us several times.  We have experienced the arc of the journey, and even in the pit of utter darkness, we have knowledge and memory that the light will return.  It sustains us, drives us.

In the middle of yesterday's painting, I was losing my patience, my confidence that it would find the light, so to speak.  I also was struggling with what colour to use for the background, as it invariably plays a huge role in the final feel of a piece.  As I continued painting and pondering, I reached for the white, which bumped the purple, and tumbled the blue.

Lying on its side, paint spilling out on to the table, I grabbed the pint and began cleaning up the mess.  As I methodically saved what paint I could and scooped out the grooves where the lid sits, I realized that my question has been answered.  The blue that had spilled was the colour I needed for my background.  The setback of spilled paint was an essential part of the process as it informed what I needed to do next.

In my mind, and in that instance, the Universe provided the answer to the question I was asking.  You can argue that it was purely coincidental that the white bumped the purple which tumbled the blue.  Maybe it was; maybe it wasn't.  Maybe it was the infinite intelligence of my subconscious brain creating a physical circumstance that would catch my attention?  Either way, it was part of the process that needed to be trusted.

What is going on your life right now that is part of a process?  What pint of paint is tumbling in your life trying to get your attention?  Are you picking up the signals?



Popular Posts