Our deep aesthetic, “like our fingerprint, . . . leaves its unique mark on everything we touch.”
—Susanna Ruebsaat, PhD
I’ve been in a process of inquiry about: What informs my/our decision-making process? What persuades me/us?
To gain more insight, I spoke with Jungian-oriented art therapist and the author of Mourning the Dream/Amor Fati, Dr. Susanna Ruebsaat. During one of our rewarding conversations, we talked through the dilemma of making decisions to do what feels true for oneself or doing what others want us to do to avoid being judged or misunderstood. She suggested “following one’s aesthetic.” I knew the word “aesthetic” relates to beauty or an individual’s appreciation of a particular expression of beauty. How does one’s aesthetic apply to decision-making?
Dr. Ruebsaat explained, “Your aesthetic is how you move in the world, the way you do things. When you make a painting, it is an extension of how you move in the world, the choices you make, the colors you choose, how you compose the image. You wouldn’t let someone come in and say, ‘Use this color.” Or, “You need to make this kind of line and put it here.” Almost anyone can imagine feeling discord instantly at having to put their line on your canvas. Metaphorically speaking, we’ve all used a color someone else wanted us to use, then felt displaced, not quite at home in our body and mind. When you are following your aesthetic you know, “That color is what I need right now. It fits for me. It’s through your gesture, your words, your thoughts, and decisions that you give form and substance, and expression to the raw material of [your] experience.”
This new perspective gave me pause. In every given moment, everyone is thinking, moving, speaking, creating, and relating authentically–from their own deep aesthetic. And an image of temenos flashed in my mind, a sacred circle where everyone is being, expressing their deep self– the only self in that moment they can express.
In the solitude of my art studio, every stroke of my brush naturally follows my aesthetic. It is in making decisions with other people, in particular decisions that do not align with what others would decide, that I am now paying close attention so that I don’t abandon my own aesthetic in hopes of gaining approval or avoiding conflict. My whole being informs me when I am being authentic; when I make decisions that honor my deep aesthetic I feel a surge of energy and joy, creativity, and am able to claim without apology, “This Is Who I Am.” It’s another way of coming “home” to myself.
“Personal Ceremony” Acrylic painting by Pam England (2017)