We’re a little more than halfway through 2012, My Creative Year, and let me tell you what I have learned.
It’s very difficult to soak in the inspiration around me when I’m at a museum or on a hike or whatever with little chattering children with me. I really need to be alone or be with other people who are content to stand in front of a painting and get lost in it, or who are willing to stop and stare at a waterfall and marvel over its beauty and power and wonder where the water came from and what it has been through up to this point, this point when it crashes down over rocks, and splashes, then settles, into a cool and relaxing pool. I need time to take that in, work it out, wallow it around in my mind and grow something from it. I love my kids but they have not yet learned the fine art of being rather than doing. (And I guess, technically, it’s my job to teach them!)
I am not as good at painting as I would like to be.
Art supply stores are wonderful, fabulous places. And they totally intimidate me, because I’m not sure where to start or what all I need to buy.
Thus far, not a lot of the things I have done have fueled my writing. However, I know that I am a processor and a thinker. And something I saw or did or thought during one of these creative endeavors may just spark something at some point later. I do know from experience that the way I usually come up with ideas is to do something mundane – wash the dishes, change the beds, walk. During these times my mind wanders and often mines gems that may have been there all along, or may have spontaneously combusted in the empty space one’s mind allows when doing something like the dishes. So in this as well I am letting go of the outcome. This year long exercise is not just about fueling writing and creating wonderful ideas. It’s about living the experiences themselves…getting out of my head and out of my house and doing something fun and interesting and new, just for the sake of doing it.
It’s about balance, I think. Some sheet-changing, some art museums, some early morning walks, some painting and sewing.
Living life is what fuels creativity.
I have been reminded how much I love to hike. My husband and I went to college in a town where hiking was just what you did. And we did it a lot. Then came kids and jobs and yard work and hiking was just forgotten. But this exercise has renewed my interest in doing it, and I want to spark the same interest in our children (now that they are old enough to walk and carry their own water and, hopefully, not whine.)
So what’s next?
Finishing the list – or as much of it as I can. Definitely.
I’m about to learn to cook all sorts of new things, as I have been diagnosed with several new food allergies (chicken? really? Yes. Really.) And I have a dinner party planned. Several items on my list necessitate a trip to a huge fabric store in our area…Molly will love it. Meghan will feel like she is being tortured. I have purchased a new sketchbook and colored pencils, and I’ll be doing some drawing. And I am in the midst of taking a photo every day for a month, which has been fun (I’m using a photo-a-day challenge for the prompts, otherwise it would be a month’s worth of photos of my kids rolling their eyes at me.)
As a person who has a really hard time being spontaneous, this exercise of planning fun things to do has kept me from languishing on the couch all year. I’ve gone places I always meant to go, and I have seen things I’d never have seen otherwise. I have learned things about my kids (my 10 year old loves pop art, like Warhol and Lichtenstein, and my 8 year old likes to take pictures and needs to have her own camera) and about myself.
Definitely a worthwhile exercise.