While researching for a piece of writing work (all right, let’s be honest, I was scrolling through Twitter because I was stuck on a plot point) I came across a lovely thesis on how an artist might possibly maintain sanity and harmony of family and one’s own soul during the ebbs and flows of making their art. Whatever process and eventual form that may take. It was not a fluffy piece of dumbed-down psycho-analysis, but a simple offering of inspiration and reassurance. As much as one can find on social media, anyway.
Credit for this smart little nodule of zen goes either to Henry Rollins, who is the alleged practitioner of this wisdom, or Amanda Palmer who is spreading the gospel of this practice on his behalf, while she herself has had her own artistic gears grind to a halt because of a little sand in the cogs called motherhood.
The premise is simple.
Artists must go through periods of flux. We are fluid, mercurial creatures. The specific terminology I found accredited to Mr. Rollins was inhale and exhale. We will have times of exhalation. Touring. Frantic creation. Continuous giving and sharing and exposing of every piece of us and our work. The time to finally unveil and present what has been scavenged from the recesses of the mind of the artist, after it has been honed and hammered and released into the wild. These breathings out may be days for reaping accolades from those luck enough to receive the newly minted fascinations. And if by some lucky star, the gods of the dance are good, the holder of the tools and ideas may also receive some remuneration for the labors of love, and the days and hours and painstaking seconds spent chasing the muse. But beyond compensation, maybe just a moment to step back and smile at what we as dream facilitators have brought into being.
But, it can’t be all exhale. That can go one for a while, of course. Longer than we might imagine or expect, but eventually, the face will flush, the lungs will burn and the mind will take over the body in the interest of preservation of both. Only so much can put out, before there must be an exchange.
There must be an inhale. A time to think, and not put forth. To discover and refresh, without the demand for results.
I am on a inhale.
Might not be fully by my own choosing. But, here it is. Air aplenty for the breathing in here in my world, so that’s what there is to do. So it’s what I’m doing.
I’m knitting an adorable grey scarf. Slowly.
I’m reading without my own pressure to produce my own content and any rapid or prolific pace. (On that subject, Addiction to Perfection – The Still Unravished Bride by Marion Woodman is just beautiful. It is nourishing my soul and brain is so many ways.)
I”m watching documentaries and silly television.
I’m having challenging but fulfilling conversations with challenging but fulfilling people.
And best of all, I’m being a mom. To an unbelievable kid.
After seeing Star Wars (again) we went to a Doctor Who themed birthday party (Yes, I’m a nerd, raising a nerd and I couldn’t be happier) and he saw the piano. He didn’t specifically ask me if he could play, he just sort of wandered over and glanced in my direction just to be sure I was on board with him getting down with some unsolicited music playing.
I was down.
I’m a realistic mama. We’re not applying to Juilliard or hauling our cookies to Boston in hopes of admission to Berkeley. What happened today was some right-hand-only tinkling of a Christmas song or two. But, to me, it was Beethoven.
Huge, lung-filling inhale for me. While my boy slowly exhaled during his own brand of sonorous story-telling.
Am I still bummed that I’m not doing any specific artistic work of my own right now? Sure. I wouldn’t trust it if I wasn’t. But with some anxiety issues only recently contained, it’s a lovely time to focus on breathing. Not specifically preparing for the next big exhale, but I can breath easier knowing that will certainly be one again.
Until then, I’m remembering to just enjoy the air.