⟡ The deep deep whys ⟡

How to find them, how to know them.

A big part of my personal creative practice is being in alignment with the deeper sense of purpose in why I engage with it.

Focusing on the deep deep WHYS can reel me back in from distraction (and destruction). It helps me to check in with myself regularly. Sometimes my whys just live in wordlessly my heart, so today when I asked myself, I got to come up with words. Some of my true whys that support my painting practice from a place of meaning have emerged below. Why, really why, do I engage in this practice?

To engage with, translate, and express subtle feelings or sensations.

To be in conscious, working relationship with my fears.

To feel a range of emotions.

To give myself another opportunity to look at my patterns.

To have fun.

To simply be in touch with the energy of creation itself.

To fulfill this creative need so I can feel more whole and show up vibrantly to my friends, family, and the world.

To become better at surrendering to creative instinct.

To embrace impermanence and practice non-attachment.

To soothe myself with the beauty of simplification.

To be in open-minded relationship with the spectrum of comfort and discomfort.

To see the synchronicities in life.

To develop concentration and discipline while also cultivating softness and forgiveness.

To be accountable to myself in staying connected to something that feels healing and meaningful to me.

To see art-making as experiments, as research.

To see art-making as self-care.

To discover more whys.

Yes, one of your whys can simply be to discover why.

These whys remind me so much about how creative practice really can be a catalyst for personal growth. It can simultaneously be an outlet for expression, and an entryway for discovery.

There is a certain dimension of love for practice that isn’t even necessarily about about the thing being practiced, but practice itself. I think I just literally love practice.

Note a few things that are not on my deep why list such as “to gain 100k instagram followers, to get my paintings in a gallery show, to make lots of money, or to be popular, successful and universally loved”. Those are not terrible things, but these things as goals or motivators for art-making would produce, and have produced, excess suffering for me. They do not serve my practice, my self-growth path, or the authenticity of what I create. My goal is to feel fulfillment and contentment in the process of creating my art, even if I never ever get those things that I might not even want after all.

Knowing my whys allows me to see the superficial for what it is, and let go of it.

My next letter is more about differentiating healthy and unhealthy creative motivations.

For now, we focus in on discovering and knowing what aligns with the heart.

Find ways to carve out well-maintained trails that lead back to your deepest inner questions.

How to discover or get back to your whys?

My friend Amy once helped me get out of a funk when I was feeling a little depressed and not painting much. She said when we feel this way, it’s good to find any way to return to the source of the work. RETURN TO THE SOURCE has become a good mantra for me. Returning to the source feels like returning to the real real real why. When I return to the source of my yoga practice, I look to the Yoga Sutras and to inspiring lessons from my teacher. For my creative practice, the idea of returning to the source helps me dive back into what is meaningful, what truly calls my curiosity, and what the truest, highest purpose is.

What is the source of your creativity?

In order to get to your deep whys, you must cultivate deep curiosity. Deep curiosity does not result in a pinterest mood board. Deep curiosity results in a living, breathing map leading you to your own deep whys.

Ways to try:

  • Ask yourself questions in a journal and write whatever comes, unfiltered. Start with “What experiences feel truly inspiring and alive to me?” or “What are ways creativity helps me grow?” or “What am I trying to process in my life?” or “What really matters to me?” and see what comes.

  • Get in touch with specific positive intentions you have for yourself, changes you want to see in your life, or things you are going through / have gone through. You can let those things serve as fuel for creativity to become an outlet to process.

  • Spend time exploring familiar or new places, get lost in nature, or engage with any space that can bring you to a heightened sense of natural existence.

  • Turn off your phone for a bit.

What are your whys? Your real whys?

It is also normal, and very ok, if you don’t know!

There is literally nothing that contains more why-magic than a big unanswered question mark. Sometimes a why could literally be the question of why itself! Sometimes, often times, I don’t know the why until after something is done or made. I might finish a project and not know exactly the why until after and it’s a fully formed lesson that falls right into my lap and basically shouts “hello, this is why!”. Maybe the why changes over time. Maybe the why is actually a “why not”? Maybe it’s a forever question which is equally if not more beautiful.

The magic is really in the asking and not always in the finding out. We can always ask ourselves why. I hope that your questioning leads you in interesting directions.

♡ Keep practicing ♡