This long bank holiday weekend just gone has been spent mostly listening. I’ve stopped talking, for the most part; I’ve stopped the mental chatter to gain clarity. My aid in this exercise was drawing, working with coloured pencils where the only thing that mattered was the lines, the colours, the paper. My self had fallen away, and I was better able to see clearly. Art is liberation. Art is freedom.
As a writer, sometimes it’s hard to just stop. I’m usually always writing, at least in my head. Like a musician who writes their own music, who is always composing, I am always putting into words what is influencing me, what the muses whisper. It’s hard to turn that off sometimes. Through meditation I am able for thirty minutes to an hour to switch it off. Days of mindfulness. Through trancing I am able to leave it behind. Dancing also does it – especially dancing with my professional dance troupe, where when we are improvising we have to listen so hard to each other’s bodies that our own selves don’t get in the way. But this weekend the awen came through drawing and colouring.
When we’re quiet, when we’re still, we’re able to hear the world around us. When we stop that mental chatter, when we stop telling and retelling ourselves the story of our selves then we can hear the stories of others. We can be influenced and learn from the stories of others. We learn that we are not always right. We learn that we are not always wrong. We learn that we are never the same person every morning that we wake up. We change, we grow, we recede, we die and do it all over again the next day. In this exercise we learn that it is okay to differ from the person you were yesterday, that your opinions and thoughts will change over time, else they become dogma.
But essentially we have to learn to switch off first, before we can get to that head space. We need to find the silence, the void, the empty cauldron. Only when we are empty can we be filled. Only when we’ve poured out all the contents can we refill it with what nourishes us. We can’t subsist on the same old same old each and every day. We have to let things go, we have to have new ideas, new inspiration. Living in the present moment is what this is all about. Stuck in the past, we are not open to new ideas. Lost in the future, those ideas will never come. Here and now. Perfect freedom.
Tomorrow I will be a different person. Today I am different from yesterday. I question who this person really is, and then I let the question go. It doesn’t really matter. What really matters is freedom.
Inspirational..as always! We often yearn for peace and quiet, but I wonder, are we really yearning for our own minds to be silent? We can be so taken up with our own thoughts, that we appear to be living in a different reality to everyone/everything else!
Your last paragraph really strikes home… it is something that I am beginning to say more and more frequently….it doesn’t really matter! Thank you for sharing your thoughts Joanna. 🙂 x
Hi Reginald, thank you for your kind words! xoxo
This touched me on so deep a level. I do like drawing. But, oddly enough, there is no freedom in it for me. It is more stressful than anything else. I studied art in college and throughout my life. I had the opposite upbringing and was pushed into art rather than into a doctorate. So I feel like if I am not drawing, then I am wasting what I “should” be doing. Of course, this is said in my mother’s voice. But it still lingers there, in the mind… Especially when I am drawing. I can’t shut off my mind. It has to be “perfect” It has to be able to be “used”, a piece of “production”. This article really inspired me today. I think i am going to go meditate before drawing this time. Just go and sit first rather than researching reference pictures and making sure each angle is perfect with a ruler… Just shut myself in with a pencil and paper and just… let go. Thank you for this. Inspiring as always. 🙂
Hi Melissa! I think it’s a case of separating the artist from the art. Art can be seen as the process of creation, not the end product. Happy drawing! xoxo
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Wise words and timely reminder on another bank holiday weekend. Still catching up. Immersed in the ongoing process of taking in the new silences and solitude of a new living space.
I always shied away from drawing and painting because my father was an artist. A second Rembrandt some of his teachers and colleagues called him when I was still in NYC. I learned about colour and what does what and can go where to achieve a given effect. He even told me after a play around when he visited me in San Diego, some 30 years ago now, that although I could do his exercises better and more swiftly than any student he’d had he could not teach me art. Ostensibly because as he said the Wyeth’s all painted alike. He did give me his 60 minute art lecture though and we had a wonderful engaging conversation.
I’ve not drawn or painted though. I guess to so do I would have to let go of that looming and benevolent creative figure in my background who is not really looking over my shoulder and never did. It was more the idea of having to live up to expectations that were never there. I like to write narrative and poetry because they are painting with words for me. Things to ponder on my walk today.
All I can say is – try it. Let the awen speak to you and flow through you in a different manner. Remember that when doing art, it’s about the act of creation, not the final product. Tori Amos often talks about the artist being a vessel, that for an artist to claim that it comes from artist only is a lie – something that I’ve been pondering lately. What is art? Is is a collective consciousness moving through the human race? Is it more? Less? What happens when we get out egos out of the way, and just let it happen? Based on personal experience, yes, but claiming ownership when so many other factors are involved – it’s complicated. Maybe it’s time for me to stop thinking again and just draw lol! x
Yes, indeed . . . stop thinking . . . will take my pencil out to draw when I go and see what happens. Will let you know.