Second chances

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that the day was a semi-frustrating one for me.  The quick back-story is that I attended an adult education/continuing education class at my alma mater, and the experience wasn’t very good.  I’m going to skip over all of the negatives (there were several), but I will state that I’m not completely blameless in my perception of the experience.  Very soon after the class began I realized it wasn’t going to be stellar, and my demeanor shifted from interested to hopeless, from semi-curious to closed down.  So while the instructors could have done a better job, *I* also could have done more to hold my attitude in check.  Had I assumed more responsibility for my own experience in the situation, the ending outcome might have been a bit less painful.

Alas, I’m human – so I will display skillful behaviors some days, and unskillful ones on other days.  I’m working to increase the former (and mercifully the tide has shifted rather dramatically!); but I still have my moments – and yesterday was one where unskillful thoughts and actions came through.

One bright spot in yesterday’s experience was that a cool older lady sat next to me, and we engaged in a brief-yet-interesting conversation.  Though she was at least 30 years my senior (if not more), I felt a ‘click’ with her; like she could be a lively person to have coffee with every now and again.

But by the end of the two-hour class yesterday, I was nearly overrun with annoyance and irritation; so as soon as the session ended I bolted from the classroom, made a furious dash to my car, and sped down the freeway to flee campus and return to the ‘safety’ of my own home.

It was only later last night that I fully realized I had missed an opportunity.  And I was kind of saddened by that.  But the only thing I could really do now was to learn from it, try to behave better going forward, then forgive myself and move on.

So I did.  I reflected for an appropriate amount of time on how I could have acted better and what I might have done differently; then I committed to really trying to improve my thoughts and behaviors as future situations present themselves; and then I let yesterday go.  Today is a new day.

Interestingly, this morning I returned to that same alma mater, to attend a second continuing education class.  Today’s topic was completely different from yesterday’s session, and I made a very conscious effort to enter the experience with peaceful, positive thoughts.

After I checked in at the main desk, I walked to the appropriate classroom – and recognized the same cool woman from yesterday!  We were both a little surprised to see one another; but we were also both pleased by the encounter, too.

I feel like today I was handed a second chance, an opportunity to correct all of my ‘failings’ from yesterday.  And I reveled in the occasion.


P.S. As today’s class was about the visual arts (drawing in particular), here are some images to add a bit of visual interest to this post.  🙂

This is the walkway to the main campus building. It's lined with a huge variety of different flowers; a visual delight.

Amid one of the clusters of blooms is a tiny patch of peppers - and I love how a spicy, fiery little number is right in the middle of an otherwise docile plant. Like a saucy student amid timid fellows... 😉

(A close-up of the peppers)

In the building where the class was held was a HUGE tower of oragami cranes.

It was a visual delight.

Here's the final drawing I created in today's class. While this may seem simplistic, it's truly an astonishing feat for me. (P.S. It's a pot with plant stems coming out of it.) 🙂

About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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14 Responses to Second chances

  1. Good job! I can’t even draw a straight line!
    Loved your pictures and so glad you got another chance to talk with the woman! 🙂


    • Stef says:

      Thanks Sharon! My ‘artistic skills’ (I use that term *very* loosely) were never encouraged as a child, so as an adult they are pretty much non-existent. But I got to uncover them today – and it was pretty cool.


  2. well, didn’t you turn things around in an awesome way! Proud of you. And your sketch is great. Taking sketching classes is on my list and trust me if I can ever sketch something as well as this pot, well, I’ll be the most stunned person in the class.
    walk in beauty.


  3. Stef says:

    Thanks Joss. 🙂 Re. the sketching, I learned a ‘trick’ is to focus not on the object, but on the negative space around the object. Just as Michaelangelo said he didn’t create a sculpture, but instead only removed the rock that was trapping the sculpture that was already inside the block, I tried to do the same in this class. Instead of focusing on drawing a pot (which would equal certain failure for me), I focused on drawing the ‘not-pot’ – and in the letting go, discovered the object in the open space. 🙂


  4. Touch2Touch says:

    “I feel like today I was handed a second chance, an opportunity to correct all of my ‘failings’ from yesterday.”
    You felt like that because you WERE handed a second choice, and you seized the opportunity. Terrific.
    It you go on as you began, you’re going to love the drawing class. It’s already paying off, and oh, the delights in store!
    (P.S. I’m sure the origami tree of cranes was for the commemoration of Hiroshima, August 6th. Did you ever read the children’s story, Sadako and the Thousand Cranes? If you come across it, it’s well worth reading.)


    • Stef says:

      The drawing class was a one-time deal (after my past experiences with art class series, I wasn’t willing to sign up for another multi-week commitment); but I think (hope!) I’ll draw every so often to continue learning.

      Ah, good call on the cranes. I have never read the children’s story you reference; I’ll have to find it. (I suspect my awesome library might be able to help me out…) 🙂


  5. Pauline says:

    Good for you for giving yourself another chance. As for the negative space, I can’t even see it! My brother does though, when he’s gazing at cloud shapes – he sees the blue around them more than he sees the shape!


    • Stef says:

      The negative space way of seeing things is truly amazing. Because it’s not an established habit, it allows me to see things SO much more objectively and non-judgmentally. There were so many parallels between the art class and my meditation practice; I hope to blog about it on my meditation blog in the next week or two…


  6. That’s great when you have the ability to realize how your change in attitude might have affected the day. So many times the only things we have control over is our attitude, our actions, and sometimes – just our acceptance.


    • Stef says:

      Lori, absolutely. Indeed, I think those things (attitude, actions, acceptance) are really all we have control over; everything else is truly just illusory. (But *remembering* this is the ‘trick’ of it all…) 😉


  7. carlaat says:

    Peppers, drawing, great comment threads about negative space – love it!


    • Stef says:

      Thanks Carla! The negative space idea really resonated and stuck with me; every now and again I will remember to view something from that perspective – and it really changes the entire world. It’s amazing! So ‘simple’, yet SO powerful.


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