The Elephant Project

Courage can take many forms.  For me, courage usually means having to acknowledge (and eventually embrace) my vulnerability.  T0 face up to the possibility that I might fall flat on my face.  Or…that things may get a bit out of control.  (Meaning that I won’t be able to manage them!  You’d have thought years of living in Nepal would have helped me get over my control issues and if I tell you that years if living in Nepal DID help, you’ll realise what an issue it indeed was!)

Practising courage can be as seemingly simple as using the phone.  Sometimes it’s  saying NO.  Sometimes it’s saying YES to a project or idea that may get big or may not work.  It can mean starting to work seriously on a piece of work that may or may not measure up to my preconceived image of what it will be like.  It can be realising that while there may be an element of play in the creating, that there comes a time to knuckle down and say Right. Now, I am working on this piece.  (Essential really, when one has an exhibition planned).

The more scared I am, or vulnerable I feel, the more I procrastinate.  Being aware that I am procrastinating is a trigger for me to ask myself what I am afraid of.  To ask what I think I am risking when I say Right, I am going to really push through with this one and not be distracted or side tracked.  In fact, sitting down at the table with the intention of working on a particular piece can be scary and for me, takes a kind of courage.  Let alone telling you that I’m doing it!!!  (It’s ironic that this post comes hot on the heels of the red head, senior citizen indulgence bottle!)

My intention in this small gap of time between class preparation activities, has been to work on what I have been calling my Elephant Project.  I mentioned thinking about making a small tile to symbolise each of the mindfulness practices that Jan Chozen Bayes talks about in How To Train a Wild Elephant.  (I was probably too scared to say I planned to make it a piece for my exhibition next year but there it is.  On the table.)

 I knew I had to spend some dedicated time on it or I would have got so far behind with this project, or been disappointed that it hadn’t got done without me actually putting some effort into planning.  It has been really good to have had some time to really think about the symbols I wanted to use, to explore what was significant for me, what techniques or images symbolised the practice. It has been a lovely thing to think about and do.  Illuminating and thought provoking. I have included some photos of some of the pieces I have made to date and the set so far are all on FlickR.  I am still thinking about assembly and am allowing some aspects to evolve.  And I am limiting myself to using the small tile shape and imitative techniques – faux versions of semi precious stones from the old country.  Here’s to practising courage.

6 thoughts on “The Elephant Project

  1. Wendy Cole

    Oh Wendy the tiles are absolutely gorgeous – and certainly when I look at your beautiful creations they link my thoughts and feelings to the book (which I am using, and this week is the meditation of stopping and taking a breath before going through a door. It is so easy for me to forget so I am using a little elephant is a reminder). Your exhibition is going to be so very, very special. With love, Wendy

    1. Wendy

      Ah lovely Wendy C, the idea of an elephant as a reminder is VERY good! I found noticing when I moved into a new space quite a tough one!!! This week I am noticing the bottom of my feet. Warm and snug in thick socks now. Thank you, as always, for your inspiration and encouragement.

  2. Cathy

    These tiles are really beautiful and very striking Wendy-Didi. I can’t wait to see what you will do with them. Also it’s great to have a reminder about courage. It was all I thought about before I left for Nepal but now in the everyday-not as exciting-routine of life, it’s easy to forget about courage. Maybe if I learn to practice courage now, not for any dramatic reason (like going overseas), but because it’s an authentic way to live, then the ‘everyday routine’ won’t be so…everyday routine! Thanks again and again for your wisdom and guidance. love Cath-Bahini-saathi XX

    1. Wendy

      Cath bahini, I read this wonderful quote from Marianne Elliott today and thought of what you said about “everyday” courage:
      “Most days, courage looks pretty ordinary. It looks like being willing to be vulnerable, to love and be loved, and to do your best and let people see you are trying.” She also talks about acknowledging when you have practised acts of courage, however small, and giving yourself credit for it. Your courage is not ordinary dear girl!

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