Living in the Land of Could

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On my walk yesterday, I had a brilliant idea. This is not unusual. Walking in the morning has an uncanny way of unleashing zillions of creative ideas.  I imagine it as walking out into the fresh air which is buzzing with little creative no-see-ums.  They dance around my head as I walk, sometimes making me dizzy with possibility…Oh, I could do that!…Ooooh, I should really try that…Boy wouldn’t that be awesome to make! By the time I return home, I’m elated with a sense of possibility and electricity.

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As a day gets rolling, I may be able to spend time creating. Maybe pick up with that drawing where I’d left off. Or knit a few rows on one of several yarn projects I have going.  None of the current projects, however, are the technicolor “coulds” from the morning’s walk.  They are yesterday’s ideas, or last week’s, or last month’s (or even last year’s!).

After my walk, yesterday began with me tackling a skirt that I had begun to sew a few days before being derailed by a shocking lack of fabric. I was determined to remedy this somehow! Creative roadblocks often drive me to find ways to push through or to get around the problem. I also wanted to block two shawls I had recently finished (one knit, one crochet) so that I could wear them, photograph and share them.  It was a happy day of being with my family, providing a meal here and there, going to see Despicable Me 2 with Maddie, helping my husband get ready for an upcoming mission trip, etc.  As I put my head to the pillow, the skirt was finished (I’ll share later:), and both shawls were pinned and blocking.

Yet nary a step was made toward the morning walks’ brilliant idea. And this morning, yesterday’s idea seems slightly less brilliant, but nevertheless something I’d like to try…someday.

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If the above account describes you even a little bit, then you may, like me, struggle with living in the Land of Could.  All the things I COULD  do (and really would like to do), can weigh heavy on me, burdening me into a paralyzed pancake. Each day’s lighthearted balloons of “brilliant ideas” have a way of becoming lead weights of “i could have’s” when I look at just how many of them I haven’t done. Multiply this by how many years I’ve been creating and you have quite a few lead weights. The CRAZY thing is, that I HAVE been creating and making things ALL ALONG…they just weren’t the “brilliant idea” of the day, or ALL the brilliant ideas of days gone by.

As part of my ongoing desire to live an Artful Life, I am pulling up the stakes of my tent in the Land of Could and setting up camp in the Land of Here & Now.  I’m finding it is quite green and lush over here. The Beauty of the Here & Now is every bit as beautiful (if not moreso!) than I imagined it to be in the Land of Could.  I’m freed up to relish the creative task I have in hand without feeling like I’ve gotta rush through it to get to the next “brilliant idea”.

A phrase I learned from my sister-in-law is popping into my mind often now. “I’m OK with that.” works something like this: When the brilliant idea from last week begins to bear down on me because I haven’t even started it, I think to myself, “Hm. I’m so enjoying the sketches I’m making in my sketchbook. I’m OK with not turning them into major works right now.” When I’m at a movie with my daughter, instead of thinking “I COULD be working on that brilliant idea”, I’m thinking,”How fun this is to be out with my daughter enjoying her and this awesome movie. I’m OK with not typing up that crochet design.” And amazingly, when I’m just watching TV (and not doing some creative thing whilst watching TV) I find myself thinking, “I’m OK with this. This is good.” I’m liking being in the HERE & NOW rather than always chasing down what I COULD be doing.

I’m learning that not every brilliant idea I have is intended that I myself be the one to give it birth.  Not every painting that comes into my head is meant for me to make happen.  Not every yarn design or creative venture is MINE to bring into reality.  They DO exist as no-see-ums or butterflies in the creative air around me.  But I don’t have to catch them ALL. And even if I DO catch some of them and give them a try, I CAN let them go back into the air before I’ve completed them.  I’m learning to be OK with that too.

The Land of Could seems like a sunny, magical place teeming with possibility.  But if you camp out there for too long, it can become very heavy and burdensome.  I’ve even found it can be a dark place where all those brilliant ideas are talons gripping my shoulders, holding me back from enjoying the creation I currently hold in my hands, and destroying my joy in the everyday life I have.  Constantly berated by what I COULD be doing, robs me of the joy of what I AM doing.

Instead of a tent in the Land of Here & Now, I’m thinking I will build a permanent home. Oooh…I gotta go draw that image…what a brilliant idea! 😉

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**You might love, as I do, this T.E.D. talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. It’s all wonderful, but she makes some particular points which speak to what I’m trying to say here. Enjoy!

0 thoughts on “Living in the Land of Could

  1. Lisa says:

    I really needed to hear this message. Thank you. You do sound incredibly creative, even as prolific as you are, it sounds like you’re just in a place of constant inundation with ideas. I’m glad you’re learning , and teaching /reminding us how to stay grounded, to stay present, and to stay grateful for what you do accomplish. I also like the visual that there is always an abundance of ideas out there.

  2. freebirdsings says:

    No-see-ums huh? That’s a good description really of those ideas which are great but yes, I too have felt them bear down and become a weight. For one thing, I can’t always remember the best ideas when I get home and there is just no way or need to do all the ideas that come to us. I like your idea of the Land of Could which sounds sooo good at first. What I do to help stay in the Land of Here and Now is to jot down a quick note (love my Iphone for quick notes) of the ideas I really don’t want to let slip away and just let the others simmer in my mind. I may forget them, may not, but I sure can’t keep track of everything. That lets the ideas move to the background where they can go visit the Land of the Future if they want. But I get to then focus on the Land of the Here and Now because I won’t be fretting over losing a “great” idea and the note will suffice should I run out of projects (never!) and want to do something in the Land of the Future. Maybe we are afraid the ideas will dry up and we won’t have them later on. What I am finding as I get older (and my eyes are not so great for various medical reasons) is that I don’t need as many projects anyhow. So I am going to really work on staying in the Here and Now as that is all we truly have and I don’t want to sacrifice it to the Land of Could! Love the paintings to go with the post too! Do I see Zine II coming to life with this series and your sketches? It’d be a good one.

    • freebirdsings says:

      I woke up this morning realizing you were saying you had too many ideas floating through your head and what did I do but suggest one more! I am sorry. I just like the thread you are weaving so much it made me think of another zine, not that you need to consider one more thing to do!

      • jenpedwards says:

        No need to apologize!! I did not even think of it as “one more thing to do”! I loved the suggestion and it really would be a cool thing to compile into a zine. Thank you Timaree! No burden there at all!! Just a lovely compliment! I appreciate it.

    • jenpedwards says:

      Thanks Chris for the recommendations and for visiting and commenting!! I hope you are happily painting these days!

  3. jrwilsondesign says:

    Jen, I love how you put voice and whimsical vision to what we as artists often experience but can’t put in words. I see myself in all your illustrations above, except with me it’s not yarn, it’s rubber stamps and paper.

  4. Alex Tan says:

    😀 Such a fun post! Yeah…I am greedy like that too, want to do like everything at the same time, and time is what I don’t have enough. Ah well….someday I will have that I am sure.

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