Moving Beyond the Known

The biggest challenge to progress is our resistance to move beyond the known. 

I’ve grown comfortable with blues and greens, a color palette that soothes me. But mixes of red tones have found their way into a couple of recent paintings, perhaps inspired by the spectacular sunsets of late.

Although there are things I like about the paintings, a subtle tension becomes evident when I look at them, an experience that reminds me how difficult it is to gaze upon the unfamiliar.

The painting shown above is one example.

Of course, it could also be that the painting doesn’t work well in some way, the reason I feel a bit off center when I look at it. But I also know that our perception about what “works” is largely determined by what we’ve learned that means. 

How do we know what we could like if we never try anything new?

I make this post – open to feedback about the painting, as always – but also as a conversation starter about moving beyond the known. 

Where do you find it most challenging to sit with the unknown in your life?

Freedom: The other side of loss

Freedom, 16×38 on plywood

Change can be difficult and is often filled with associated grief, but freedom can also be found in the process of letting go. Major life transitions offer a special opportunity to find freedom in change, but it’s easier said than done depending on the details.

We just sold our house. And truthfully, nothing about the related details over the last months have felt close to positive, except the knowledge that we would eventually conclude the stressful parts and be another step closer to our goals – a simpler life, fewer possessions, reduced financial obligations, to name a few.

Anticipated freedom on my mind, I noticed the plywood board sitting on the side of the road – FREE in bold marker written across the surface. Instead of unwanted junk, I saw a new canvas for the old house paint I’d not yet discarded. This idea was so compelling, I actually turned the car around to retrieve the board after initially passing it by.

I’d already made two other paintings with house paint, which turned out to be highly therapeutic, as well as productive. See an example here. But those paintings were made on canvases already in my possession, the benefit of using them more immediately obvious.

In the middle of a move, the last thing anyone needs is to accrue anything new. Nevertheless, I found myself putting the board in my car, unable to resist the symbolic reference and the therapeutic value of a new creative project to soothe me between the packed boxes.

Although I understood FREE would be erased by whatever painting I made, I imagined I’d know freedom in the layers of the painting. I was right.

Freedom is a mindset, not only a consequence of release from unwanted circumstances. Freedom is found any time we allow ourselves to move beyond preconditioned responses. Freedom comes when we let go of expectations.

I am free. You are free.

Sunlit Path


Ripples of light
Unfolding a path
Over vast, shifting earth

Circuitous, but leading
Not the shortest line
But there

Along with that lone tree
Whispering wind-filled stories
Of survival and new branches

Look back if you must
But notice the widening arc
The trail gone past

Tales of your struggle
Are etched in your bones
You need not repeat them

Now, away from the setting sun
Step into your long shadow, embrace
And watch the tide shift

The unknown
Place of your thriving
Lies just ahead

© Amanda Reilly Sayer

Remembering Light

Whenever I feel the balance tip to dusk, edging towards darkness, I recall the sunrise, or other light-filled images. Metaphorically, yes, but also literally, with dozens of photographs to choose from.

You might wonder if this is a way I escape the present or turn away from a more complicated reality, which is always a mix of light and dark. But that isn’t my experience. Rather, this practice of remembering light helps me keep perspective no matter what is going on around me, just as a wide angle lens captures more landscape.

I wonder what you do to regain perspective when the scales begin to tip. Would you consider sharing that with me and others? Can we remember the light together, then offer it to those who need a little extra today?