One of the strangest things that happened to me personally in 2020 is that I stopped keeping a journal. I’d written daily, first thing in the morning for about 10 years. I think it had to do with the all social restrictions, so I wasn’t doing much. There was a lot of doom and gloom in the air. There was a lot of injustice that was not moving any closer to justice. I stopped a few weeks after the execution of George Floyd. I kept giving myself deadlines to start the habit up again, but I never did much.
I worked on my visual journal/sketchbook some. But all I really wanted to do was sleep. During the summer I spent a lot of time working on my porch garden, and wandering around the neighborhood. As it’s gotten colder, I’ve gotten less mobile. My adult son is living with me for awhile to help me out while we wait out the COVID pandemic. I also had surgery on my Achilles tendon in November. I’ve had a number of other procedures on my feet trying to correct damage from decades of limping.
When I was a child, I learned how to deal with trauma by living in my head — daydreaming, making things up, creating. It was a good enough technique, but I have a tendency to think if I’ve done something in my head, it’s done, then I don’t have to do it in reality. I know that makes no sense, but it’s one of those challenges I have. We all have things we have to overcome to get our work done. I get to a point where I think I’m on top of it all, I’ve got myself totally together, and then I don’t.
I wake up in the morning late, late. Drink coffee in bed and watch the garden. It grew in the summer, it died back as winter progressed.
But I’ve painted. Not in the disciplined, daily way I wanted, but I got quite a few finished this year. (You can see them here.) And I’ve sketched and I’ve written some, just not in a way I can brag about and pretend I do it every day no matter what. That puritan work ethic messes with my head. We all need time to reset our pace, refill our creative well.
I have threatened this before, but I think now is the time, to start going through the old sketchbooks and journals and sharing what I captured. I want to give you a schedule, say I’ll blog 3x a week, but I know I’d just set myself up for disappointment. So, I’ll keep being sporadic.
When I first started making art in my 30s (a response to the chronic fatigue that is a symptom of my degenerative disorder) I discovered how little bits of time spent on something, builds up. So we’ll see what happens as I set a course for myself. A course of self-acceptance, a life long lesson.
As a college student, I got to have a conversation with the great poet W. S. Merwin. I started my creative journey writing poetry. I was terribly insecure. I asked him how do you know if you’re really a poet. He said try to quit.
I think in 2020, I tried to quit. But it’s so ingrained in me, I can’t. So I must be REALLY something creative. I feel so fortunate that I have you, my friends and followers, to keep me aware of that. That I’ll keep coming back to this joy.
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