It is early March. The daffodils and crocus are blooming along with the early pink cherry trees. Warm days surface in between the cooler ones. There is that certain freshness in the air. I notice neighbors clearing out their flower beds and think about tidying the garden at our house: cutting back the dry stems and swaying seed heads on last year’s cone flowers, pulling off the blanket of fallen leaves to find the green and pliable new shoots underneath. My mind races ahead to putting away the winter coats and buying new sandals. I dream of a rainbow of baby beets, carrots and swiss chard in my vegetable garden. It seems like Spring has arrived. Then we wake up Monday morning to falling snow! School is closed and my son runs outside to play, bundled up in snow pants and winter gear, having just worn shorts a few days ago. Nature reminds us to be patient, to expect the unexpected, to have faith and let things happen in their own time. The Spring will come, just as it does every year, but each year it arrives a little bit differently.
These are things I need to keep in mind. I am patient with my child, with other children in the neighborhood, patient with a new account at work, patient with friends, patient with strangers, but entirely inpatient with myself. I am hardworking and disciplined, I commit to doing things in specified time slots. I am organized and ambitious. I want things to get done on a deadline. And too often I expect my creative work to conform to these parameters in order to be successful. Yes, art requires discipline and commitment, but it also requires patience. What I really require is open-ended time to think, dream, experiment and muddle along– activities that seem suspiciously like doing nothing. I work at this every day, trying to balance these two sides of myself, both controlling and improvising, pressing forward with all my will and my intellect, while trying to remain open and receptive to different rhythms and unplanned ideas.
I sit down to write or to paint. I look at the clock. I tell myself I will finish this post and paint this painting within a certain time block, then I will complete that spreadsheet for work, do the laundry, run that errand, and be home in time when my son gets off the bus so that I can help him with his school project, do some design work on my Mac when he goes out to play, then make dinner and relax into a family evening. Things rarely go as planned. Sometimes the writing does not flow, jerking along while I procrastinate by reading other people’s blogs. Sometimes the painting flows so much that I lose track of time. Hours pass while I cut out tiny shapes with an X-acto blade and layer color over color over color. Maybe it works, or maybe it doesn’t and I will have to paint over the entire thing. My schedule is now way off. There is no time to run that errand. The spreadsheet will have to wait. Tomorrow I will have to carve out time for the design project. I will make time for my son now. His company softens me and makes me laugh. We talk about our day and my rigid To Do List fades. Maybe his dinner comes out of a mac and cheese box tonight. (I get away with this only because my husband is working tonight.) But I do steam him some fresh broccoli. There’s just enough time to snuggle on the sofa and watch our favorite show, Cupcake Wars, then it’s up to bed for story time and sleep. I think about staying up late to work in the studio, but I am exhausted. Tomorrow is another day.
This morning I took my dog, Holly, out for a walk, intent on photographing those blooming cherry trees in the neighborhood. As I excitedly approached and steadied the camera, zooming in on those gorgeous blossoms, Holly yanked my arm that was holding the leash, a gust of wind blew the branches wildly about, and the sun went behind a cloud. This went on for several minutes as I became more and more frustrated. Then I had to laugh at myself. These pictures are about patience. I took a deep breath, waiting for the sun, the wind, the dog, and my mind to be still. I stopped looking through the camera lens for a moment and observed the intricacy of the flowers, the nuance of pinks. I heard the soft exhale of the breeze in the branches. This is what I really came here for.