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!