A New Point of View

4.17 Arrangement with Plants on a Wall

In her New York Times best-selling book Stress Less, Accomplish More, Emily Fletcher (founder of Ziva Meditation the world’s first online meditation training program) believes that attempts to judge any creative endeavor and how to figure out what might be improved next time does not mean that people should preemptively criticize or apologize for their work. Why not?  It gives others “permission to lead with disapproval.” That’s why not.

Fletcher also speaks of creators as people who are vulnerable to other people’s judgements which “can be incredibly scary and lead to a less-than-elegant plague of self-consciousness and doubt.” Indeed.

This is exacerbated when studying an art form outside my own culture, coping with sometimes vexing pedagogical methods and social expectations as well as grasping dissimilar aesthetic norms. It’s not always easy to trust in any confidence I might have about my work.

Marisa Peer, another woman whose approach I have applied for many years now, is an advocate of changing any negative words and pictures held in mind. All of this is useful to me in my development as a fledgling ikebana artist, and I stick to it. Faithfully.

A case in point. When I shared a photo of my latest ikebana creation with Anne, a sensitive and exceptional ikebana artist I met and befriended during my studies in Tokyo, she wrote: Now that is beautiful! Great! Hope your ikebana continues to go well. That was some of your best work. Congratulations!

Delighted with that response from someone with great probity and exceptional talent, I replied to express my thanks. I thought my response was unapologetic and positive, quite in keeping with Fletcher and Peer’s counsel.  Of course—and I’m not being self-deprecating about it as I did have to envision the concept—the splendid piece of driftwood did a great deal of the work for me.

Anne countered: No, I disagree. You made the driftwood work for you, and you did that splendidly.

With those words from a valued mentor and friend, my perception shifted 180 degrees. Splendidly.

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