Last week was the week between class sessions at Painted Crow, a week I had pictured as relaxing, yet productive as I took a small break. I ended up spending the week floating in a sea of tea and Kleenex as I nursed a head cold. I also found myself doing a lot of couch surfing, which meant a lot of reading and watching movies.
One movie that had just recently been released on Netflix was “Chef”. I really enjoyed it when I saw it in the theater so I decided to watch it again. I had forgotten what a great example it is of the value of following your true dreams, not those that society defines for us; not letting our fears limit us; and living life in the process, not just for the product. (If you’ve taken one of my intuitive process painting classes, this probably sounds very familiar to you.)
The first half of the movie follows Chef Carl Casper as he struggles with his success as a chef and his dawning realization of how much he has given up to attain that success, namely his creativity and happiness. He has achieved fame and success as the head chef of a renowned restaurant in Los Angeles. But it becomes very clear that he has no creative input or control there, and he is very unhappy. The restaurant’s owner refuses to take any chances or let him try anything new or different because he is only interested in maintaining the reputation of his restaurant by serving the same menu that brought it success in the first place.
This is the voice of the inner critic, the ego, Mr. Judgy. This is the voice in all of us that holds us back and keeps us from living fully.
The chef is clearly knows that what the restaurant owner wants him to be is not what he truly wants, and is just as clearly miserable, and yet he ignores his intuition and desire and clings to that misery because it is attached to the success, to the goal, to the “safe” and the known.
So many of us live like this!
The turning point in the movie comes after Chef Casper has just had “playing it safe” backfire on him and has had a bit of a public meltdown and everything falls apart in a pretty spectacular way. He and the restaurant’s hostess end up having this conversation:
Chef: “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve never not known what to do. There’s always been a next thing to do. Now it’s all over and I’m lost.”
Hostess: “I think that’s a great place to start.”
This is why intuitive process painting is so powerful. It’s a training ground for building the muscle of listening to your true heart, for strengthening that connection and learning how to trust it and follow it, and becoming more comfortable with that not knowing what comes next. All at the cost of a little paint on paper. It’s a leap into the unknown without risk of broken limbs, homes, or careers. A low risk way of getting comfortable with the risk, with the unknown, that leads to true fulfillment and to being truly alive in the process.