A Wise Maker Said (Last Weekend On the Radio)

Last weekend I turned on the radio just in time to hear a snippet of a program to which I rarely listen, but my interest was piqued by the discussion.  The guest was an artist whose name is Ann Hamilton.  Someone asked her how being a maker (the title she prefers over artist) and a teacher and a parent inform each other, and also how she keeps the maker "alive with enough nourishment, how to not claw at the small amount of time/space in [her] head?"  And this question resonated with me, as I'm sure it does with many people who feel that they fight for bits of time in order to bring their ideas to life.

I don't know anything about this artist, so I have no idea what her work or her teaching are like, but her voice was calm and her response was soothing.  Just listening to her response made me feel instantly more relaxed about what I might be able to do in the coming days, weeks, years. I could feel my brow loosening and my shoulders unfolding as she responded to the question.

She said that when her son was born, she just learned how to make differently: "It happens in your kitchen, it just happens differently...trusting that just because you can't be in whatever you call your studio doesn't mean that you are not having a thought or insight.  If I conceive of them as being separate, then I would be forever frustrated, but if they are all one practice, and...all the projects are one big project...not that we don't feel pressed for time in some ways, but there is an anxiousness that I can at least allay a little bit.  Sometimes the most important thing is to...make the soup and in the soup is going to be the project even though a kid is sick upstairs and that's why you're making the soup."

"Everything feeds everything else," she said, and isn't that so true?

It feels lucky that the universe connected me with her thoughts at just this time, as I am coming to realize that executing the move to the village is going to cost me dearly in any kind of private free time for a large portion of 2014; the thought of which renders me both slightly devastated and also a little bit defeated with regard to the uncomfortable goal for 2014.  It's not that I have given it up, but it is true that I had to let go of the pressure I was placing on myself with regard to the deadline.

In spite of my dismay at yet another disruption to the ever-so-brief settled feeling that I have felt only recently in Houston, and how that links to my creative life, I have been working to imagine what small projects will travel well while we are in limbo.  Some days it sounds fine, almost like a fun creative challenge, and other days, it is hard to resist a feeling of desperation about the sum total of lost time due to continuous moving disruptions.  Hopefully, anything I can accomplish along the way will feed both my soul and the future of my ideas, a la Ann Hamilton.

Another notion that Ann addressed was the idea of time as a material, instead of a boundary, and the importance of letting things take the time that they need, which is another nice validation of what I have been working on personally for a few years now.  I know people who succeed, and indeed thrive, at a breakneck pace with no down time, but I have learned that I am not one of those people.  Not only that but it just feels like things are still brewing and fermenting for me, and that maybe the uncomfortable goal was a little premature.  Immediately after I made it, I felt anxiety every time I looked at the calendar, and it had me spinning.

This very wise maker added still another thought to an already-helpful conversation; she posed the question "how does your own vulnerability become a place of incredible strength...if you can just occupy that, then there's whole lot of knowledge in there".

To me it feels that my vulnerability is the uncertainty of our geographical future; the inability to know with confidence that a place I make my own, or my home. will remain my place for any length of time.  I have dug deep into my heart and soul to find ways to live comfortably alongside that notion, and it continues to be a challenge.  We made the hard decision, but today it feels almost unbearably risky and exhausting.  I need to take a deep breath and find a way to make turn these challenges into assets.