I’ve been to Disneyland a couple of times. Once when I was a kid and once when my kids were small. The last time I was there, we went on a ride that I remembered from my childhood--a racetrack. The mini Indy car is set on a monorail which winds throughout the course. There’s enough play in the steering wheel and a “gas” pedal that gives you some semblance of control over the car. My son was driving and I was in the passenger seat. I could see the same exhilaration in his face I felt as a young boy as he tore off the starting line and raced at imaginary high speeds in an attempt to win the cup.
Two related points that come to mind that seem equally important to me:
1/ There are things in our lives that we have little control over. Sometimes, instead of living life to the fullest, we get angry at the situation and blame others while at the same time trying desperately to steer those things in an impossible direction, even though we know we’re on this confined track. No matter how hard we turn or step on the gas, no matter how white-knuckled we hold onto the steering wheel or try to drift a corner and hit the gas in the straightaway, life is going to continue down its own path.
2/ My 5 year-old, on this fake racetrack in Disneyland, knew that he was in a manufactured experience and knew he controlled little. But he made space for that illusion and lived it to the fullest within that seemingly narrow frame. That narrow space can become the whole world, filled with exciting twists and turns for the short time of the ride.
How can I accept the inherent uncertainty in art-making and not be afraid to relinquish control in the process? How can I, within the confines of the canvas, be open to the entire world in that narrow space?
As we pulled into the finish line (we won of course), my son’s eyes were wide, he was grinning from ear to ear, beaming with excitement, living this moment to its absolute fullest. “Again!” he said.