Image for “How I painted my way to bliss”, Finding Your Bliss

As I get older, bliss tends to be a blanket term that can look like so many different things. It is both quiet and loud, satisfying and boring, motivational and unattainable.

I have wondered time and time again if bliss can truly be found or if it can just be felt. I can feel satisfaction through validation, I can see the transition to happiness in my mood, I can show pride in my work. But bliss refuses a depiction.

Perhaps for me, bliss is not something per se, but is the absence of everything else.

But how do I achieve this?

In grade 11, I enrolled for the third time into my high school’s art class — a course that so few had opted to take in their senior years. The classroom smelled like old paint and determination, and the walls were a mural of the students that came before me.

Up until then, art was recognition for me. It was a conversation starter, a group assignment, a competition.

But it was not until that year that I had created a piece that created something in me.

Throughout our first few classes, we were given the assignment to find an up-and-coming Instagram artist and mimic their postings with the inclusion of our own style.

My palms felt sticky as we shared phones and my voice became louder as we shortlisted our ideas. I remember the feeling of anticipation, the excitement to design and develop and create. I remember the feeling of being told, “go!”.

But then the feeling disappeared.

I had gotten carried away in finding the perfect image to recreate and determining the perfect blending shade to use and searching for the perfect song to play through my headphones.

My sudden obsession with intentional decisions seemed to be a collective experience. The buzz of the room had gradually faded into a deep hum and I sat back in the plastic chair, resting my elbows on my desk, slowly sharpening my pencil.

I looked down to my page and back to my screen, feeling the sense of ease flow back into my creative process as the colours merged on the page. I lifted my head when I could remember to, easing my warped posture by rolling my shoulders and cracking my neck.

I can still hear the bell ring and feel my mind snap back into answering the question of what I had to do next, what class I had to attend, or what conversations I needed to have. I unlocked my phone and realized my playlist had repeated itself three times while I worked. I stood up, stretching my arms and my back, and finally peered down at my creation with present eyes.

Painting by Mia Maaytah
A painting by Mia Maaytah

I saw the harmony I had somehow created — the gradients from the bright reds to the deep purples, and the sharp edges that gave way to exact proportion.

From an outsider’s perspective, my work may have seemed purposeful and premeditated, a direct approach with refinements and conscious pivots.

But to me, it was the absence of all thought and direction. It was disorder and chaos that stemmed from my lack of needing for it to be perfect — my lack of needing to plan. It was not deductive logic but allowing myself to disappear into the unknown of how it will make me look or feel or act.

From that day until now, I have found bliss in art due to it being the only activity where I move and I get moved right back. I allow the excitement to come after the fact by refusing the notion of searching for a feeling.

Perhaps bliss is my impossibly busy mind and constant daydreams finally being put to rest while still being awake. Or perhaps bliss is existing separate from expectation.

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