Zen and the Art of Shell Collecting
Cris wrote a book, Pattern Play, A Zentangle Creativity Booster, with Sonya Yencer. I had heard about both women through the Internet, but it was really Pattern Play that brought Cris to my attention. It is one of two books I recommend to anyone beginning their Zentangle journey. And then I private messaged Cris asking if she might be willing to chat with me a few moments and when was a good time. Hardly had I hit send when my phone rang. My kind of person – instant gratification, smile. She was full of good advice and spent a healthy amount of time for which I remain grateful. She is on my A list.
And now the page is hers.
I will admit to being a recovering perfectionist. Not content simply to be valedictorian, I graduated with a perfect 4.0. A challenging software development career in the telecommunications industry where systems had to be available over 99.999% of the time did nothing to curb this tendency.
But after forsaking my 15-year career to take care of my newborn daughter, I began to realize the folly of this all-or-nothing thinking. Even so, I chose hobbies like quilting where striving for perfect 1/4-inch seams, perfectly matched prints, and precisely pieced patches is ubiquitous.
In February of 2010, I went to Whitinsville, Massachusetts to learn from the founders of Zentangle®: Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Their gentle, “no mistakes,” “life as an artform” philosophy was completely foreign to my type-A personality. But it struck a chord deep inside of me.
For the past five years, I’ve been teaching the Zentangle Method and their philosophy weekly. Since then, I’ve noticed that the philosophy of Zentangle has been creeping gently into my daily life, subtly adding a sense of peace and artfulness to many everyday activities.
Today, I noticed it while collecting shells.
Before Zentangle: My morning walks had a purpose: to get the best shells before someone else did.
After Zentangle: I slowed down my morning walks and took my time to notice the sound of the waves, the color of the clouds, the coolness of the water, the patterns in the sand, and the smell of the ocean. Any shells I pick up are a welcome side-effect to my walk, just like in Zentangle where the relaxed focus of stroking pen across the paper will have a side-effect of beautiful art.
Before Zentangle: I only looked for perfect shells because they are the prettiest, and also, the scarcity of these rare gems gave their discovery a sense of accomplishment.
After Zentangle: I understand that that perfection does not equal beauty and that all beauty is subjective. A shell may be both simultaneously broken and beautiful.
Before Zentangle: I threw away the “ugly” shells.
After Zentangle: I know that any shell can become lovely with care and attention.
Before Zentangle: I looked only at “what is.”
After Zentangle: I look at “what could be.”
Zentangle has helped me become more peaceful, appreciative, patient, and non-judgemental. Has creating affected other aspects of your life? If so, please share how.
To see more of Cris’ work, please visit: https://tangledupinart.wordpress.com/