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You can drag a horse around an obstacle course but I don’t recommend it

I’m a control freak.

Oh wait…I should back up a bit because I’m practising awareness of how I label myself. Control freak is a bit negative.

I like to have control over situations. Sometimes I need to have control.

This is something I’ve become aware of over the past few years. Control is safe, right?

It really came out when I was doing a workshop that involved horses. The idea was to release control and work with the horses in their way, not ours.

In one task I had to lead a horse around a small obstacle course. On foot.

I really wanted to do well. I’ve been around horses for years now and while there’s no way I’d call myself an expert, I do know which end is up and which end to avoid.

So I took the lead rope, stood to the left and started leading.

We were going to do that course and do it well, damn it!

Have I also mentioned that I might be highly competitive? I need to work on that too!

The instructor stopped me and asked me to look at what I was doing.

I was doing awesome! I was dragging that horse through the course regardless of how he felt about it.

Dragging. The. Horse.

There was no partnership. There was no consideration. I had full control and that was that.

It was exhausting.

I had to do the course again, this time with my hand lower on the lead rope and without dragging my equine partner.

I had to release control and release myself from my outcome expectations.

We did the course again, together. Maybe the time wasn’t as fast but I wasn’t carrying the full load of horse plus myself through it. And I enjoyed it more the second time.

Control is a lesson that comes up in art a lot.

Sure I have control over a lot of aspects, but there’s a lot that I don’t control too.

The times when paintings just don’t turn out no matter what I do.

The times when I wished I could paint in a different style. Realism. Or smoother. Whatever.

You know what happened when I released control over my art?

The style you see now.

The neon colours. The lumpy brush strokes. The raw emotion.

And you know what? I love it so damn much.