Looking for Gray Hairs

Mistakes are as natural as gray hairs - of which I have made (and now found) my own. Like gray hairs, many of us look for mistakes in our art, with the vain attempt to eradicate them; like somehow, if we found them all, and stared and them hard enough, they wouldn't happen anymore. A close friend of mine is a musician, and after many shows I noticed how critical she was of herself. She would quickly point out her mistakes, even if it was after noting the overall success of the evening - this happened so soon after that it would almost counteract the praise. I fully realize the importance of seeing mistakes, whether in music or in my writing, (however I do have the unfair advantage of proofreading not allotted by performance), but there is a self-limiting course set in action when we focus on mistakes, nay LOOK for mistakes.

What usually ends up happening at the end of this thought path, is that we engage in a subtle form of aggression towards ourselves: we either directly, or indirectly blame ourselves or feel guilt for these 'imperfections', and becomes stuck in a state of displeasure, which is rather, uncomfortable.

The yogic concept of Ahimsa (or non-harming) is to refrain from violent action towards other and ourselves. This goes beyond hitting and screaming, can can get deep into the fabric of our relationship to ourselves. Ahimsa invites us to examine how we hurt ourselves, how we are our own aggressors. When we are frustrated with our follicles and creative foibles, and get caught in this anger based on an attachment to an impossible ideal, this is perfect time to practice Ahimsa.

Now don't get me wrong, no artist would be anywhere if we didn't strive for greatness, but something has to shift between what we conceptualize while creating art, and what we meet when we have finished creating. This is reality: the beautiful imperfection that it is to be human.

In another perspective, wouldn't we rather create from a place of striving to fully express, than from the fear of making mistakes? This comes up in art and in life so often. We can make choices based from fear, doing things to avoid certain repercussions, or we can act from love, moving towards something because it is in our heart. Ahimsa is exactly this, acting out of love. And in that way, we can shift our focus from seeing faults, those few gray hairs or missed notes, to embracing the whole picture, wholeheartedly.