A Possible Day

If your psyche — vast and complicated — was a city, how would you choose to get from once place to another?  Would you wish to be blindfolded and put in the trunk of a cab and driven there, or would you rather walk?  If you walk, then you will be able to find your way back and you’ll gain understanding of the city’s details.

We can speed blindly from place to place, and somehow think we will evade the anxiety of the driven life; or we can slow down enough and be reminded of what well-being feels like.  We can navigate our way on our own and at our own speed.  Body work like massage, yoga, tai chi and reiki are good ways to remind our body how it feels to be safe in ways that allow us to trace the path again and again.   We choose to control so many things about our lives and so often overlook controlling our own attitudes.    On ordinary days we could choose to be so much more joyful, and instead we take our to-do or to-be lists, forge a sword of Damocles and hang it over our heads.

OK, maybe you don’t, but I do this pretty much every day.  So many of us who may seem serene, who have daily mindfulness practices of one kind or another, we’re not doing it because we ARE serene, but as a way to find the trail back to it, over and over again.  Like this week:

It was an excellent plan: I would felt a large piece of yardage on which I’d experiment with some of the patterns, colors, fibers and motifs that have been on my mind.  Once dry, this yardage would work well cut up into cards, cases, small hangings.   In the busy days of company here, students moving into dorms and apartments, and helping to care for our granddaughter, I’d have an assortment of work to do in the minutes here and there, embellishing and finishing these small projects from the yardage.  Great!

I completed the yardage, staying up late in the night and enjoying the quiet, cool studio.   When it dried, I could examine what worked well and how I’d want to tweak various techniques and other options, for future work.  I couldn’t wait to start cutting it up… except… the piece did not want to be cut up.  It worked as a whole piece, and I did not have the heart to start cutting.  So instead of a collection of related work, I had one, large piece that insisted on remaining whole.  Instead of a week’s worth of hand-work to do, and a nice assortment of new things to deliver to The Gallery Shop, I have one table runner or wall hanging.

I turned the piece this way and that, hoping some part of it would yell “Here!  Cut here!  Great little purse right here!” I could continue my great idea.  But the more I examined the yardage, the more complete it looked, whole.   I felt frustrated: in those precious minutes here and there in a very busy week,  in which I’d have no time for completing much felting,  I would also NOT have the felt yardage needed to be as productive as I’d imagined.   I felt constricted, stressed, thwarted.

But the weather has been cool and fresh and so beautiful, and everyone around me begins to settle into their academic new year groove.   Why would I torment myself, beat myself up with this “great” but impossible plan?  Time for Plan B.

Instead of embarking on new projects from the yardage-that-will-not-be-cut-up, I need to turn my attention to what is possible in the days that are not whole cloth, but are a patchwork of minutes here and there in which to do studio work.

This shift in attitude was rewarded, of course, with a shift in my mood, which transformed from frustration and a sense of incompetence (how could I have failed to produce yardage that would be just right for cutting into projects?!) to one of possibility.   For sure, there’s other work to be done in small bits of time.

It’s wonderful to dream big, to envision abundant studio time and successful projects: this is how artists put one foot in front of the other.  But if we use these dreams to beat ourselves up rather than for motivation, we only create additional obstacles to overcome.

For today, I’ll be grateful for the work that I can accomplish: repackaging some Rhapsody Rose Corsage pins to include vintage calico fabric backgrounds on which to attach the pin, and assembling some “small stash” bags of various merino & novelty felting fibers (introducing the world to yak, one student at a time!) to sell at this Saturday’s Gallery Shop demo.  Instead of the intensity of crafting a variety of new work from the felt yardage, I’ll cut a dowel and attach it to the yardage, and make it a wall hanging so it can be enjoyed.

I’m taking care of our little granddaughter, who naps as I type this post that I composed in bits in my mind while on a walk, with Elsa the dog walking gracefully alongside the stroller.   Here is the whole cloth of the idea which I hope might be somehow useful.

Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 4:09 pm  Leave a Comment