I hit places where I need to step back and assess…step out of the forest so I can get a bigger view of the trees, the landscape, the beauty that is my life. It does feel like I “hit” these places due to the speed with which I run from tree to tree each day and go careening around in circles, only to “hit” a spot I’ve come to many times before. It sometimes takes the form of a wall, a rock, or just plain weariness. I find myself saying,”Stop the world, I want to get off!” And so, a step back, or many steps, is helpful, needful, imperative. In these places I often find myself asking WHY. Why do I do what I do? I ask this of all the things I do for family, for work, for art, etc. Why? What is it all for? To be a good mom? (or have someone pronounce me so?) To make money? To help those I love achieve the things they want to achieve? It takes a while, this untangling process, and there are a few things that help me.
One is to draw. To stop as much of the careening as I can and slow down enough to “just draw”. Slow, observed, continuous line drawings where I get to really gaze at the things/people/stuff around me. It is in drawing that I get to actually see the beauty of my every-day. It enables me to slow down the running around that goes on inside me, even if I appear quite calm to others on the outside. It allows me to inhabit THIS moment, tracing its contours, rather than worrying, planning, or concerning myself with the next and following moments which seem to require so much of me. It is in the act of drawing that my running around slows into a comfortable walk where I can hear the clock ticking, the breeze blowing, children breathing, music playing.
The other thing that helps me is to pull out a book or two in which I have found encouragement before. Often this is one of Julia Cameron’s books, The Artist’s Way or Walking in this World. Sometimes I pull out Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters. The story of how drawing grew out of tragedy, how drawing was a tool for healing in his life, is a story I like to recall again and again. But this time, a couple of other points stuck with me:
Danny writes,”My drawings began as a way to count my blessings. To study, capture, catalog the things that, despite it all, make my life rich. First my immediate surroundings: The sun that falls on my notepad. Jack’s new paintings on the fridge. The slow tumble of a dust bunny under the dining table. I try to feel these blessings, to become part of them and their source, whatever that is. And that communion, not these drawings, is the reason why I draw.” (pg. 23)
And again,”Despite all these indignities and the lousy drawing that I made, I had fun. That’s the point of it all, a point I have been prone to forget during the months it took me to fill this book in my occasional detours into would-be professionalism. All these attempts to create functional reasons for my drawings all ended up in frustration and, for a while at least, led me away from the real purpose of all this “work”, which is very simple and something I have craved and searched for these many years: to be.” (pg. 80)
These quotes “hit” me right where I needed it. I wish I didn’t find myself in these weary places…yet they actually end up being a blessing. These are the times when I get my compass realigned, my trajectory reset, my heart decluttered from all my attempts to be a “professional”. I’m so glad there are those who have gone before us and who have been brave enough to share their story with us. Danny Gregory strikes at the heart of the matter in his Everyday Matters. I wish I could remember these things everyday. Somehow I forget them, and go careening around again, only to “hit” a place where I need to be reminded once again. Ahh…the rhythm of life…it’s a wonderful thing.