“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”

Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog



My friend Rick says this often: “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” I summon an image of him saying it to me every time I expect someone or something to all of a sudden change.

Then there’s that famous Einstein quote– the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Often change is born of a strained effort, an overdue epiphany, a new resolve to approach things differently.

I’m an artist who loves doing the same thing over and over. The paradox of it all is that my meager ritual, those months where I commit fully to one painting each day for 31 days, those are the months of growth not stagnation. The same practice but new developments. My past behavior (all those daily painting challenges) predicts my future behavior (the new one I’m in the process of telling you about), but somehow doesn’t determine the depth of it’s impact. Ritual is both sameness and change.

Every time I commit to this habit, I discover something new and quietly profound. So starting August 1, I’m doing another 31 in 31– one painting every day for 31 days. Those are my only rules although I’m sure some themes will emerge as I get going.

As always, I would like to invite anyone who is interested to join in. My last 31 day challenge was in January. I was joined by writers, musicians, poets, daily walkers, coloring book enthusiasts, yogis, photographers, cooks, and, of course, other painters, but at our core, we were just one big group of cheerleaders– you wrote a poem today? YIPPEE. You took out your watercolor brushes and let them graze the paper– WAY TO GO. The magic happened when these simple practices yielded connection, insight, possibility– when doing the same thing over and over actually did engender new and exciting results.

If you’d like to be among the group of August participants, and aren’t already in the facebook group, just leave me a quick message in the comments. All are welcome. May our humble August ritual set jewels of infinity in a single moment.