Written by: Morgan Blair, Founder and Creative Director of Unpolished Journey
(Tal R’s “March to Fruits” painting)
Today I listened to a lecture by painter, Tal R. During the lecture this painter talked about the necessity of failure. He put up on the screen his painting called “March to Fruits”. He explained this painting as such, “sometimes you realize something is going to be a disaster and you have to destroy it. It’s great because if you know you are going to fail then you can fail in a grand style”. The white explosion in the center of the painting was his push back against what he called “the disaster of the city scape”. Tal R saw that he was dissatisfied with the boring and uninteresting quality of the initial work and destroyed it, making it something entirely different while still using the framework of the original painting.
“March of the Fruits” was a painting marching towards failure in the same way someone flirting with an eating disorder is teetering on the edge of a cliff. Tal R knew the painting was unsuccessful and you know an eating disorder is an unsuccessful way to live. The eating disorder’s games cannot be won. The disease will never be satisfied until you are gone, dead, or in treatment and unable to play anymore. If you are playing its game, you will fail because that is literally the only option. It makes virtually no sense for the perfectionist, control obsessed, eating disorder types to then embark down a road that we will never find the end to. Instead, if those of us with eating disorders are so success driven, why not then find a way to be successful within our disorders? We cannot win when listening to the disease. We can win by doing everything against it, though.
So if you know you are going to fail with the eating disorder already, why not fail in a grand style? Why not look at the eating disorder within the context of Tal R’s painting. The eating disorder is the straight road, perfectly constructed, driving you towards a boringly perfect cityscape. The eating disorder is the disaster that Tal R referred the painting as before he came in with white painting and destroyed it. So, why not pause, put down the eating disorder’s paintbrush, notice the eating disorder’s rules- perfect boxes, straight lines, a road leading nowhere- and destroy it. See the failure of the painting before it is completed. After all, if you already know you are guaranteed a failure then freedom can follow. Freedom in destroying rules, destroying perfection, and calling out the eating disorder for its unattainable games.
“I will paint like this no longer!” And splat, white paint all over the center of the eating disorder’s work of art. An explosion of disobedience. A bomb of defiance. A brave, bold move saying, “I will destroy your work! I will make sure that I fail at your games!”
You know restriction will never be enough, your purging will always leave you isolated, running cannot chase away your emotions, and binging will never ease your pain. You know this and therefore you have permission to give up. You don’t have to play a game where the outcome has already been determined. Fail at the eating disorder so that you may be able to paint your life in an unrestrained and imperfect way. A successful way. A fulfilling way.
You may put away the running shoes, close the toilet lid, eat the cookie, order the burger, smile, laugh, and love the curves of your soft body. You have permission to destroy the painting that the eating disorder tried to convince you was attainable. The eating disorder told you to paint boxes with straight lines, so paint circles. It told you to paint in black and white so paint a rainbow of shit. Construct for yourself a rainbow of inner peace, nourishing food, and self-compassion.
Fail in a grand style.
Fall like royalty.
Fail like the eating disorder has zero say over your life.
Paint yourself a gold crown because, honey, you have cracked the code: you were never actually painting in the first place, but only listening to one instruction after another. The minute you put down the brush is the moment you start making decisions and when you take the driver’s seat only then can you be successful.
We fail in order to learn something about ourselves. Fail a test and you realize what areas you may need to study more. Lose a friend and you learn how to communicate more effectively. Miss the winning goal and practice for the next game you will score at. The problem is that the eating disorder guarantees failure. It doesn’t matter if you study for the disorder’s next test, you will always fail. That’s why we must find a way to destroy its rules. The eating disorder was never a game for us to win or a painting to be completed. But once you have the awareness that the painting you are working on will never be done, that you will have to work tirelessly on it for the rest of your life, then you have the ability to destroy it. Paint the white explosion in the middle of it and move forward.
Fail in a grand style and leave the eating disorder’s work of art to die afterwards.