If there has ever been a time in which we call time into question, it is now. The past 6+ months has brought both great losses—and gains. It has brought added responsibility, teaching kids at home, slowing down to sanitize and caring for those around us who are isolated and need our presence in tangible and intangible ways. It has brought unprecedented value to the things we love.
Artists may see this time as a gift, in which their “other jobs” if they have them, have ebbed—or there is more time at home or in the studio. So there is more time for art.
Or perhaps the studio schedule has been unaffected by isolation. I often see the meme of an artist sitting at their easel at the beginning of pandemic—the middle—the end—and the picture is always the same. In other words, the artist’s daily routine may not have been disrupted. This isn’t the case for everyone, certainly. And it’s not always the case for me, with family of all ages at home and vacillating work requirements—and motivation levels.
And yet, it has seemed imperative to paint during this time, and so I have. Art has not stopped. But, as for me, my perspective on time and intention have changed. It feels like time and intention go hand-in-hand as a tool for thriving during this time. What I do with this limited time we have seems so important because . . . .
Energy comes in waves. When world events come home, breaking my heart and mind, my energy shifts to processing—and prayer and meditation. My energy is necessarily“low and slow.” But when I find myself in the house with the primary job of "being at home," I see that time as an opportunity to create around family activities—sometimes as a family activity. And the bar on energy rises, sometimes to a really nice level--things are just clicking along! But sometimes, I feel the frenetic energy that often accompanies my feelings of disempowerment.
And what about this extra energy? What do I do with the extra, buzzing, "doing" energy that invariably appears on a good day or even a frustrated day? There is a precarious balance in which my energy rests during pandemic. Everything requires a bit more energy—masking up, remembering my six feet of social distance, navigating my own home with many other bodies in it.
And sometimes, it’s hard to keep “going.” Most of the time, I am a “goer.” As Monty Python’s skit in Live at the Hollywood Bowl would say, “I go a lot.” Though I’m certain that Python’s meaning and mine are very different, I have always been on the go. I’ve always had a lot of creative energy. When I was younger, no doubt, this slipped into the unhealthy range of activity. It was “too much.” But as I get older, I recognize what I’m doing—when I’m “buzzing” on activity.
And so as I ride the waves of energy, the word, “intention” appears before me more often than ever before. Am I moving through life—and my studio with intention? Why am I doing what I’m doing--where is my energy coming from?
Sometimes, energy is for doing the task at hand. Plain and simple. It's time to tick off the list of things to do, whether in life or art. There is a job to do. And this keeps me going.
Sometimes, time is for resting. And I just sit--whether the energy rises or falls. I have the luxury of windows through which to watch the birds. I watch plants and weather and just watch, resting my brain. Meditation on . . . as Franciscan Father, Richard Rohr would say, “Just this,” or the current state of life, is my time for resting. No striving. No past. No future. Letting thoughts go as they arise. Sometimes, allowing that buzzing energy to land on the flower of peace to gather pollen.
And sometimes, my time and intentions are set to playing. Enjoying this creative process as it was meant to be enjoyed. Time to feel the color in all of my senses, elevating me above the gray that is my mood or the coming winter. It's important to do. It's important to sit. And it remains vitally important to play.
While time and intention go hand-in-hand during this time, I’m confident that this is not the case for “this time,” alone. This is the case for all time. In and out of the studio. For presence. For creativity. For joy in the midst of pain or chaos or confusion--or vacillating energy levels. For peace in a time of the unknown—which really is all of life, not just pandemic.