Friday, September 3, 2010

Allowance and Control

Pick up almost any self help book, whether it's about diet, business, relationships, you will most likely find the concept of control as its central theme. We are urged to "control our own destinies," "be in control of our lives," "take back control!"
    We know what it's like to want to control something, as we all have areas of our lives where it seems appropriate to know what we are dealing with on a day to day basis: Do I have money to pay bills? Does my car work today? Do I have to be somewhere today?
    We have come to accept that it is preferable to control something than not to control it. If something is "out of control", that usually has a negative connotation, and it often feels like the next step is to get the situation "under control."
    When control becomes a habit, it often is a sign that we don't trust our own ability to be in the moment. It's a hard thing to do, being in the moment. The way to truly be in it is to relinquish control. As long as we are acting on the need to control, the concept of allowance (letting the moment be the moment as is) has little room in the situation.
And what does this have to do with Zentangle? For me, lots.
   I was made very aware of this on my 8-hour car trip last weekend. First of all, I really have a hard time with cars and highways. Put me on a plane anyday! It's the very feeling of not being in control that puts me in a tiz. We have a van, so I can stretch out and bring beading and Zentangles, which keeps me from focusing on the highway shenanigans. Yes, it's my way of controlling my situation. It's finding that comfort zone so I can live with what I cannot control. I wish I could be with it a different way, but wishing is not being in the moment, either. It is what it is for now and I have to move forward the best way I can.
   Doing a Zentangle tile in a moving vehicle presents its own exercise in allowance and control. Bumps in the road make for a shaky, quaky line! Well, dang it, now how am I going to make any use of my car time to get anything done? Everything I do for the next 8 hours will not look like what i'm hoping for. Again, hoping is not really in the moment, is it? It's projecting a future situation in our mind, not a situation that is in the present moment. So now I have no control over the highway drive and no control over the pen in my hand. Geesh. Now what?
   Now what? Keep tangling, of course. So that's what I did. I chose to let go of my need to control a pretty tangle. I once again I was reminded that for me, the process of Zentangle is not about not how it LOOKS, but how it FEELS. The feeling of making each mark deliberately, and with my full awareness, is what became the focus of my exercise. As the van jumped and twisted, so did my pen. I could only smile at each mark that went a little haywire.
   I'm just now realizing as I look at the tile, that I probably was feeling a bit like the Crescent Moon all cocooned in the center of the Umble, which look like little highways curling all around me. It reminds me that although there is conditional comfort in control, there is an unconditional joy in moving forward in the midst of having no control.


  1. I love how you bring the lessons of zentangle to the lessons of life. As there are no accidents in life what a timely reminder you have provided for me. Very soon I will be leaving on a cross country train trip that will eventually end at the October CZT class. Not only am I excited about the class but having the time to zentangle all day on the train seemed like a great gift. Just last night a doubt popped in to annoy me - the motion of the train will surely spoil any tangles. Then to read your thoughtful sharing post this morning - just what I needed to send that doubt away. I'll be thinking of this post at that first wayward line! Thanks

  2. I am excited for you! What an adventure. And yes, what a gift of "rattled stillness" to be on a train and tangling. I will be sitting next to you in spirit on the train. That sounds like loads of fun!

  3. Hi guys, I LOVE traveling by train. When Rick and I go to NYC, we always try to get a table in the cafe car. There he can play on his computer and I, well I can do anything I want. Tangling on the train was fabulous. And, we also play gin rummy! (I usually bring an nice cheese plate and crusty bread and we order a glass of that cheap wine and have a few chuckles and pretend we are in Paris again. hmmmm. m

  4. Carole, your tangle looks like a lovely surprise package wrapped up with ribbon!
    I agree trains have a wonderful charm, Paul did his apprenticeship at the Tasmanian Railway so he is drawn to any train, steam or diesel!

  5. Thank you for this positive input to Zentangling while on the move. I'm very new to this lovely way to relex while creating tiny works of art. So new to it in fact that I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Zentangle Kit, to France, which I just ordered on Friday. This means even more chances to tangle, so long as I remember not to try whilst driving !!!!!
    I'm soooooo enjoying reading and learning from your inspirational blog with your helpful hints and steps to produce such lovely tangles.
    Many thanks for all your lovely posts. I sadly may not get to read them all tonight, but I'll certainly be back time and time again.
    Warmest best wishes,

  6. Thanks, Su. I enjoy this art form so much and have a great time sharing and teaching it. All the tanglers I've met in person and online are generous and supportive and that says a lot about Zentangle's creators. Have fun with your new kit! That is how I started. The dvd is a lovely way to get the essence of the art form.


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