Art is a living creature. Art needs space and air.
Like many people, I work a regular job. Then, like yourselves, we carve out time to make art out of necessity to feel alive.
The regular job is just the framework of the house, but the “house is not a home”* without love, aka creativity and art.
Not to write, for many of us, is to die.
If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy, or both.https://raybradbury.com/on-writing/
The art I create comes in many forms starting with the daily meals that are prepared with imagination and soul. Recently, I shared a piece of writing with a friend. He was amazed that I can write something creative despite the heavy demand of my work schedule, maintaining the house, taking care of the dogs and chickens, teaching yoga and meditation, keeping the humming bird feeders full, plus the little surprises that come along (like getting rid of mice that got inside the house from a hole behind the stove. That was some kind of awful.)
My friend attributed my creativity to the the vitamins I’m taking, to which I replied that I don’t take any. I am, however, a big believer in making my own food, taking care to eat less processed food as much as possible. It’s a creative process to prepare a meal. A short diversion – many years ago, I had invited another friend for dinner. After the meal, which was shared with my dog, Chloe, he said, “That was the best dog food I ever had!”
Living artfully is not easy, because not everyone thinks that way, or can be that way. It is a way of being. I love motorcycling. It’s a way of getting around that is deemed “unsafe”, “impractical” and many other things. But it feels alive to ride on two wheels with some speed and wind to fill my lungs, and debris and bad roads and inattentive drivers to navigate around.
Pragmatism, efficiency and processes can be deemed as roadblocks to living creatively. But it is a necessity. Multi-media artist, June Wayne said “an artist is practical.” What she meant, as an example, is an artist needs a studio where they can create. So, it must be that an artist needs to work at a job to support the ‘habit’ of creating art. As artists we teeter-totter between the pragmatic and the artistic mind-heart set.
I have to watch myself vigilantly, so that I am not consumed by efficiency in trying to get things done. When I’m not mindful, I notice a dim film of depression coat my skin and seep into my flesh. My body droops and I drink too much of anything (caffeine and alcohol). I take short cuts in my self-care. For example, instead of luxuriating in putting on lotion after a shower, I slap it on fast and rub on the moisturizer over my face and skip the spritz of my favorite perfume. My body gets tensed, and my thinking is muddied. I breathe with dis-ease instead of ease.
A simple practice I’ve re-started is to spend more time outdoors, especially in the morning and around twilight. I invested in a dedicated hotspot that connects me to the internet securely and I can work on my laptop while I absorb natural light and fresh air and natural sounds: the breeze rustling the leaves and the chimes, birds singing, the chickens clucking and crowing, the dogs barking, the flutter of wings and sounds of the city hovering in and out of my attention.
By “noticing”, I started to make little adjustments. I started noticing my doubts and tossing them out and replacing them with my instincts. Doubts are “mind” stuff. When I follow the doubt then I allow my mind to beat me. But when I go with my instinct I feel free and I feel good. There’s also an edge akin to risk-taking because there’s the unfamiliar, unexpected and the unknown. I’m going with choices that are not 100% full proof, hence an opportunity to learn and to grow and to fail and to try again.
For example, instead of asking permission to do something, I recognize it’s better to just do it and make something happen rather than hang back – “paralysis by analysis”. In the end, something happened, and I can live with it, with more practice.
I’ve made a choice to let go, by just being myself, and do without trying. When I surrender then I come to that space of breath where the mind is at play, or in other words, not ‘figuring it out’. It’s taken me a while to ‘get it’, not by figuring it out, but allowing for recognition that the mind is powerful and I can’t let it beat me. I’ve begun to notice with more attentiveness when my mind is running the show (my life) and I get all knotted up inside, I hold my breath, and I am tired most times from mental fatigue and lack of deep restful sleep.
Surrendering also means letting go of stressful relationships. We form different types of relationships and some can be “political” whereby someone is jockeying for “control”. I’ve wisened up a little, though I’m still learning, that if it’s not serving me to be the best of me, then I have to drop it. I have a limited number of breaths in my life and I have to make each one count by being aware as to what purpose I am serving. I’ve also given up on perfection, because there’s always going to be something or someone better than me. “I am” is just right for me.
*(lyrics by Hal David from the Burt Bacharach song of the same name)