The boys just completed their last week of summer camp. I spent the week doing some writing, running errands, watching a few movies. And on the last day, I went on a date. With myself.
The idea was taken from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. She recommends, among many wonderful suggestions, taking your inner artist on a date once a week. It seemed somewhat hokey to me, but realizing I only get so much inspiration from my home office, I decided to give it a go. As the last quiet morning stretched in front of me, I packed up my journal, a couple of books and headed to the Botanical Gardens after dropping the oldest at baseball camp.
The morning was beautiful, quiet, warm. The cicadas scratched a call and response promising a hot day to come. The cardinals chirped at the present coolness, sharing a greeting as they swooped from branch to branch overhead. The traffic hummed on Piedmont Avenue a few hundred yards away. The water cascaded over the stone lip of the water feature like silk, the roar in my ears enough to block the occasional footsteps and passing conversation.
I took several deep breaths and felt the pleasing pull of my pen against paper. Little observations, moments, thoughts, running in black ink and bad hand writing. I didn’t move more than my hand against the page. It was then that I felt the stillness settle. And it felt familiar, warm and good. It had been a long time.
In my day-to-day life it’s difficult for me to find peace, quiet, stillness. In the wake of no job to balance, I find it hard to be physically still, instead seeking tasks that keep me moving, busy, occupied. To find the stillness, to invite it in and remember the creative spark that lives within it was invigorating and calming at the same time. It was a moment to remember the honesty of me.
The hubby and I are big Orange is the New Black fans and the opening credits run against the backdrop of a fantastic Regina Spektor song, “You’ve Got Time.” As I welcomed the stillness and wondered at its novelty, a line from that song bubbled to the surface:
Taking steps is easy, standing still is hard.
So true. It’s so easy to move forward, to keep going, to try to fix it as you go. How many times in life have you found yourself on the wrong (or at least the less right path), but just kept going because it would have been harder to stop, to backtrack, to find a new map? It’s happened to me. The stereotype about the man who won’t stop to ask for directions didn’t become a stereotype for nothing. Stopping to find the right way is sometimes harder than just continuing down the wrong road convinced that eventually you’ll end up where you want to be. It’s practically an American mantra: “Keep on keepin’ on.”
But the stillness I experienced was so fresh and exciting, I can’t wait to find it again. It’s not going to be easy. Just as it is important for the hubby and I to step outside of our couch and DVR evenings to connect for a regular date night, it is just as important for me to take time to connect with the inner self, the muse, the stillness.
In the coming months, I plan to aim for at least one artist date every two weeks. A stroll through Oakland Cemetery, a latte in a new coffee shop, a drive to a new town, a morning at the arrivals gate at the airport, a tour through an art gallery, browsing in an antique shop. I’m not bad company, come to find out.
I think this might be the start of a lovely long-term relationship.