True story: Some of my fondest and most freeing memories of high school (of the PG variety) were made in a classroom. Mr Hines was my favourite art teacher because he wasn’t just any old teacher, he was cool. He wore doc martins like the rest of us and could relate. He didn’t talk down to us and you got the sense that you could tell him just about anything in confidence…well, almost… But that’s what made him so popular!! He encouraged us to channel all our crazy teenage angst and just get it all out onto paper or canvas. No judgements or criticism, just encouragement and a bit of arty farty discourse delivered with a healthy dose of charm, wit and sarcasm (ok, I had a tiny wee crush on him). In that classroom we were safe in the knowledge that we could be or do anything, art was such a powerful statement at that age, an anti-dote to depression and low self-esteem. All barriers were dissolved and nobody cared how popular you were or where you came from. The only thing that mattered was that moment sitting at your desk getting lost in quiet chaos, in total communion with your pastels and paint on paper. Creativity can’t cure cancer but just imagine for a moment if it could?
The same thing happens today when I sit down to draw or sew at the machine or write this blogpost. In the absence of any distractions, my mind becomes fully engaged with what I’m doing in a seemingly endless stream of thoughts and time seems to stand still….and just like that, I’m not myself anymore. I’m transported to another time and place and fully immersed in the moment experiencing an incredible lightness of being and consciously aware that I’m connecting to a pure source of divine inspiration. The Greeks have a word for this feeling…three actually, for the different types of love we experience in any given moment – Eros, Philos and Agape. The first speaks of ‘intimate love’ and for the beauty and passion within, the second speaks of ‘friendship’ and of holding an ‘affectionate regard’ for someone dear or close to us and the third speaks of a higher love, for god or humankind that is unconditional and sublime in nature.
This kind of love, can move mountains and some say is the source of all our creativity and strength, peace and empowerment. But what happens when we deny it? What happens when we grow up and forget the value of its very existence to transform the mundane into the magical, or rather for finding the magical in the mundane? And more importantly how can we strive to get a little piece of it back into our everyday lives?
The answer of course lies within and asks us to simply slow down, to stop what we are doing and take a good look around, to appreciate the beauty, wonder and enchantment in our world just that little bit more, and to worry , fret and analyse a little less. This takes courage and a fearless commitment to discover and be our true creative selves again in a world that is lost to the shackles of time and bound by a conditional clock that tells us we’re always running late, never enough hours in a day or running to chase our tails. That somehow we’re not good enough don’t work hard enough or that there’s never enough money, energy or time left in the bank. We have forgotten what it’s like to simply watch the sunset, see the world through a child’s eyes and remember what it was like to do something purely for the joy or fun of it or how happy it makes us feel in the moment and what’s worse, we feel guilty or care too much about what other people will think when we do.
This is why I sit down to paint seemingly insignificant and erratic brush strokes when I get the chance, the line and colour falling on the page in a range of muddled tones and hues, or sewing endless rows of neat and tidy stitches with impatient precision and devoting hours to writing this blog in my pyjamas. Because the act of doing so both humbles and humanises me and all the bullshit I feel about life beforehand simply falls away to reveal something more real, honest, meaningful, and alive. We’re not meant to be this perfect whole and complete version of ourselves.
As human beings we are distinctly and beautifully flawed, complex creatures that crave the simple things in life…to live, happy, peaceful and content lives, comforted and confident in our ability to create meaningful connections and share our passion with others. We are also equally fickle and like to contradict ourselves, it’s just human nature…so although I may not always have the time to do my art, or I may procrastinate when I do, somehow that’s ok too. The brushstrokes might end up half way across the page, my stitches might sometimes resemble spaghetti but hey, I got this, we all do! There are no rules to this either. That’s the beauty of life as in art, you just make it up as you go along and enjoy the process along the way. It’s enough just to be me and like the line in one of my favourite songs goes…’And we’ll all float on ok’ – Modest Mouse