What is it supposed to be?

"The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your reality becomes." -- Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

I was just thinking about the most annoying thing that an artist can hear: "What is it?" Or even worse, "What is it supposed to be?"

Of course, this applies to abstract art. But for realistic art, the converse is true "It's a flower," (moves on) is probably equally annoying.

Presented with art, the ego feels the knee-jerk reaction label, evaluate or describe, and therefore package into manageable chunks. So, something essentially ethereal becomes a thought-form. Now it can be "agreed with" or "disagreed with", "liked" or "disliked." Thusly, this thing becomes invested with the sense of "I," momentarily satisfying to the ego.

The ego might even feel the inclination to verbalize its labeling to everyone around. If people react to you — whether they agree or disagree — enhances the ego just a little bit.

Exercise: Next piece of artwork you come across (especially one that you don't "get" right away), don't label ANYTHING about it. Just be with it.

Painting by Neo Rauch

At first, what happens to me is that my conditioned mind starts looking for a backdoor out of this activity. It thinks, "Once I decide what this is, I can move on."

The trick is just to notice that's happening.

Getting good at this exercise has amazing benefits. I've started to loosen up and actually enjoy myself, not just with art, but life in general. My mind has become decongested. Ordinary things become funny, inspiring, sexy and magical. This is probably what "living in the moment" is all about.

It's all about stopping the sub-conscious "What is it supposed to be?"