This week, I was so excited to be doing one of my many projects for work. I actually was getting to draw and watercolor and thoroughly think a project through instead of flying by the seat of my pants as is what inevitably happens much of the time. Literally, I had been giddy last week leading into this one, so excited to sit down and do the creative work.
Then it came time to move from the rough sketch to prepping the watercolor paper with a background wash, to penciling the final images, and I immediately started getting frustrated at myself with the way I was drawing hands and feet. I wanted to throw the project down and go sulk, and I almost started berating myself over the imperfections. I took a brief break, and I realized that I was in the process of ruining something that I had so been looking forward to due to being overly hard on myself. It doesn’t matter if the feet and hands aren’t up to my high standards. It has literally been six years since I’ve done this detailed of work for this type of project, and I’m rusty, but I’m never going to get un-rusty if I don’t take on projects like this. I was able to take what would in the past been a downward “beat myself up” spiral and find joy again in the creation process.
This is really important to remember as creatives and as human beings trying to go about our daily lives. Anything can be a chore, even the work that you love to do the most. And anything can be bliss, even the dishes (I like to put music on and sing while I do the dishes, when I do them. Though usually my husband does them while I’m putting our son to bed.) You can get satisfaction or annoyance from almost any task that you set yourself to do. I actively choose bliss and satisfaction whenever I can. And I’m getting better at catching myself when I do tends toward the self-degradation and negativity that would make everything seem like a major drag on my life.
Which do you choose? Can you find small ways to bring yourself more joy into your daily and creative life?
On Saturday, I made the two hour trek with my 3 1/2 year old son to my aunt-in-law’s cottage on Lake Ontario for a clambake (the same cottage we stay at in our annual New Year artist/writer retreat). As soon as we got there and started in on our greetings, my son started saying “I want to go see the water! Go see the water?”, and I told him that we had to finish saying hello to people first. After the round of hellos were through, hand in hand, the two of us ran to the deck overlooking the water, wind in our faces, laughing and shrieking at the cold. Then we stood on the deck, watching the water, though I was torn between finding solace in the waves and just watching my son watch the water. Then he was off, running, me at his heels until he reached out his hand for me again, and we went to the neighbor’s deck, which sits lower to the water and he had explored this past 4th of July. And again, we both just watched the waves and felt the wind and grinned at each other. We bundled up later and spent more time by the water.
It was one of those absolutely perfect moments that life hands to you at times, that indelibly imprints in your mind and lets you replay it like a movie. I don’t talk a lot here about my son (beyond complaining about him keeping me up at night) or my views on motherhood, but it is such a profound joy to me. Every day that I get to spend watching him grow further into himself, every moment he slows me down and lets me see the world through his eyes, every time his sweet smile makes my heart feel so full that it should overflow but somehow it doesn’t, it gives everything else in my life such profound meaning.
It was worth having to stay up late Friday and Sunday night working to be able to do the trip, to go to the water’s edge and have this time with my son. All I could think as we ran to the water was Please don’t let him ever lose the joy of running full into the wind and loving the water. I hope he keeps it into adulthood as I have. As a seemingly inherited trait, there are far worse ones he could have.