What Bob Ross told me about Right vs. Wrong

I can often paralyze myself with hyper-analysis around the right or wrong thing to do in any given situation. It’s draining and exhausting and annoying.

My boyfriend made me this awesome cross stitch of Bob Ross.

It sits on my altar space[1] next to a chipped mini statue of Buddha’s head and some stones and sage. I was kneeling in front of the altar praying for god (or “to whom it may concern”) to show me the difference between right and wrong. I was stressing out about something, certain that the fate of the world rested on this one decision. (Which was probably something like, “Do I watch The Matrix or Hunger Games tonight?”)

Seriously. I can spin out about the tiniest of things. It’s humorous and adorable… in hindsight.

So there I was, praying. I opened my eyes, looked at the cross stitch, and started to imagine Bob Ross as the humanized version of my god. All kind and loving and adorably quirky with an Afro. And a shirt unbuttoned enough to show chest hair, probs. (Sometimes my concept of god becomes this hyper-vigilant micromanager. I like Bob Ross better.)

Suddenly I heard in my head, “All colors are equal. All exist in nature. Think of emotions as different hues for life’s painting.” He told me there was no right or wrong. No right or wrong way to feel or right or wrong path to take, even. (I mean, let’s not get homicidal or cut off an arm to test this theory. You get the idea without being extreme, Sally.) (I imagine your name is Sally.) (For the one person who reads this named Sally, this’ll be totally profound.)

Rather than stressing myself out about doing the “right” thing, I’m learning to recognize that the only “right” thing is to stop stressing out over silly shit. Go take a breather outside. Set the issue to the side and wait for clarity to come. Just take the next best step.

Chasing clarity is like chasing bubbles. The more effort we put into it, the more likely we are to chase away or pop the clarity bubbles.

Our best bet is to be calm and let the bubbles come to us.

I tend to try and figure shit out. I’ll be caught in an old patterned story in my head–PAUSE.–Let me explain what I mean by getting caught in an “old patterned story”.

Let’s say I dated a bunch of ass hats who enjoyed having emotional relationships with other younger, blonder, bustier women via FB messenger. I may have, as a result, created a “story” in my head that ALL guys will do this.

This is false, obviously, but can feel very real in the moment. It’s something I’ve subconsciously created as a protective device to prevent me from getting hurt in the same way. (Its existence causes more pain than good, actually, which is why I’ve worked so hard releasing stories and anchoring back into the present.)

So let’s say Boyf and I are canoodling and his phone vibrates and he doesn’t check it.

The old story may get activated. Rather than, “Oh his phone vibrated. The end.” I start filling in all the details, making assumptions, and taking everything personally. “THERE IS SOMETHING HE IS HIDING. SHE IS PROBABLY BLONDE AND BUSTY.” Before I know it I’m hiding in the bathroom hyperventilating while pretending to pee. This is what it looks like to be hijacked by a story.

I’ll later discover that the vibrating text was actually his mom, or something similarly harmless. And I’ll be like, “Holy shit I was spinning out about something that wasn’t even real.” And THEN it’ll seem funny. But in the moment? It sucks. I feel unhinged.

THIS is what I mean by getting caught in a story. It’s a big bundle of old pain and fear, asking for my attention, and overall trying to protect me.

Sometimes I’ll catch myself in this story – or “trance” as I like to call it – while I’m in it, and then try to use my intellect and analytical prowess to “fix” the story or snap out of it. This is humorous, really, because the story itself resides in my intellectual and analytical thoughts.

Trying to fix thoughts with thoughts rarely has a positive outcome.

This just adds more energy to whatever it is I’m trying to break free from. I’m learning that, if my original attempts at defusing an activated panicky story don’t work, then it’s time to try something different. Share with a friend, or give it to god or my Higher Self or somewhere else outside of me. Or go for a walk or do the laundry. Do ANYTHING else aside from try to figure shit out.

That’s when the real magic happens, is when my focus is outside of myself. Lots of rewiring and rewriting takes place, all behind-the-scenes, all without my INTENSE FOCUS and HARDCORE EFFORT. Without panic about what’s REAL or what’s NOT, what’s RIGHT and what’s WRONG.

Life doesn’t have to be so hard.

It’s okay to let the fuck go.

And today, that’s my primary focus.


[1] An altar is a sacred way to invoke certain spiritual energies / support. It can be used for prayer, meditation, intention-setting, or a place for a badass Bob Ross cross stitch.

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Some days, I paint. Other days, I write. And rap. And tell stories. And do comedy. And doodle. And [attempt to] bake. And, one week out of every month, I merge with my sofa and sob about mortality and things like the existence of air and how we can't live without it and how utterly claustrophobic that is to consider. I'm relatively particular. And this is a place for me to share ALL the quirks.

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