Emergence is the name I was invited to give, to the paining a friend made, of a transformation she experienced, following a chat we had last week. Up until that video call we had never met or spoken to each other. We connected through a mutual friend, and spent the call exploring how we might facilitate each other’s process. A professional exchange, perhaps? She is a talented, intuitive artist who guides people through a programme of painting and drawing which, in her own words, ‘shows you the art of drawing yourself back to you’. She offered to introduce me to her world and asked what I might be able to do for her.

Within minutes we had found a way for me to contribute, but I’m not sure either of us imagined it would be so transformational. It is the aim of this piece, therefore, to share what such an experience feels like using a few hundred words and one picture. (Before you read on, take a few minutes to see what you see when you look at the painting.)

There is no need for me to go into the detail of her story because this is a story in itself. One of emergence rather than transformation. Her painting depicts – at least for me – a figure emerging from the colour. It stands firmly on the ground, strong and supple; stationary, yet poised ready for forward movement. In light of what has happened with me recently, (summarised here), it’s as if the figure has stepped out of the fog of its own pain and history, yet continues to carry that with him because he has been formed by it all. He is embraced by it, but no longer weighed down by it. It dances playfully around him, thrilled to be able to exist rather than be banished, and to be a part of this mighty individual who is in the process of transforming his own pain in a way which strengthens, honours and unites.

My friend painted this picture in an afternoon, immediately after our second conversation, and only six days after our first. In the intervening time we had exchanged messages on how she was doing and the effects she was noticing – not just in herself, but also the people close to her. For her it all felt instantaneous. She sent me her reflections and as I read them, I had only one question: Can you paint this? And she did.

My contribution to her had simply been to remind her to focus on herself and write stuff down. You see, if I have a problem with the world or anyone in it, then, by definition, it’s my problem. Furthermore, it makes sense that the solution lies within me, because that’s where the problem lies. We talked about letting go, stepping back, and creating space for things to happen. This may sound a little simplistic, but what my friend’s experience shows is how effective this approach can be.

Simple and effective, perhaps, but it still requires commitment, discipline and application. And a certain amount of faith, because although the change has been remarkable for her in its depth and speed, it has taken her years to get here. I don’t know what kind of work she has been doing on herself, nor how much, nor for how long. I just know that such breakthroughs only come with the force and momentum of continued effort and perseverance.

Returning to the painting, that figure was there all along; fighting to exist; doing whatever it could to survive and grow. It persisted, eternally seeking a way forward. Then, one afternoon, everything came together and he emerged into the pristine light of an existence so familiar.

Her name is Siri Opli, and you can find her work here.

Related posts: It’s Easier To Look At Yourself | Close To A Breakthrough | It Can Happen In An Instant | Never Give Up | Punctuated Equilibrium

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