“None of the Crazy you get from too much Choice” – Joni Mitchell
Personally I find when I have too many options at my disposal – be it in choice of types of peanut butter at the supermarket or brands of watercolour tube paints – I get overwhelmed and eventually debilitated and finally dissatisfied.
WHY? Because you cannot have everything and knowing all of those options are there makes you feel as though you may be missing out.
I leave the peanut butter aisle with a feeling of doubt and exhaustion at having to deliberate and decide over so many options. Now – if there had been one little perky jar sitting there I would have just picked it up with a smile and popped it in my basket – happy days. No feelings of “what if that one is better” or “well there are so many types I simply must try them all”.
Simple is best – less is more. (As seen in the image below – when planning a painting most schools of art INSIST on a tonal study of no more than 3 tones in order to establish the main areas of light and dark – simple!)
There is a power, calm and sanity to be found in limitations I find.
In my art life I can easily get overwhelmed by the options I have regarding
What happens – and I don’t think I’m alone here – is that I get all fired up with some subject and then research images online etc and then get distracted by some other media and style that appears more attractive and before you know it I have done zilch regards actually drawing my initial chosen subject – have done no preparatory tonal studies or even small painting. No – I have spent half a day surfing the net – scrolling and clicking my way ever further from my initial choice. It is debilitating as nothing that I sit down to paint seems quite good enough. But I persevere and know that given time, single focus and deep seeing I will finally get “into” my choice and enjoy doing the work. But oh what a struggle to get there!
No subject/medium/style is perfect – we just have to do the best with what we have and what our skills will allow.
When I visited the US back in 2005 I spent 3 months experiencing overstimulation on many fronts. This was all too much for a simple Welsh girl. By the end of the trip I had become a nervous wreck while ordering food at fast food outlets. The relentless plethora of options that were fired at me by the counter staff just sent my brain somewhere very nasty and unhappy. Types of cheese – too many, types of bread – too many, ways of cooking eggs – too many. And then the beverages – let’s not go there. Could someone just make me a normal tea!!!
Now as with everything there is nothing wrong with a bit of choice but it is always, as the Zen Buddhists know, about balance, moderation – the middle way. A bit of Yin and a bit of Yang.
Too much choice can send us scatty and too little can leave us feeling lack.
I think in general we are now entering a world where we have way too much of everything and the proof is all around us that it is not making people happier or more contented.
So – to steer my way through the seas of life as we know it I am becoming more minimal in my thinking and actions in order to try and offset some of the excesses.
What excesses add to or take away from your sense of happiness and peace? Or do you find it all fine?