I’m packing the last of my northern studio, readying to move south for the last time. I am about to have a single creation space, something I have not experienced for fifteen years.
The joy is bubbling in me. I want this. But I have a question for myself. Will I be able to sit still in one place?
I was a child who exploded with energy, curiosity, mess, and noise. I have a million memories of being told to sit still, stop wiggling, stop making so much noise, be quiet, clean up the mess, put that away, don’t touch that. And on and on. I am not surprised my Mom, like me, napped every afternoon. I wore both of us out.
Eventually, I learned to become someone who appears quiet and peaceful. The word ‘appears’ is a clue.
I’m not actually sitting still.
Under the surface, my mind and heart are constantly, busily, happily engrossed creating the next drawing and the next piece of writing. Inspiring myself with other artists’ work, and how exactly did they create that colour and that effect. Being curious about the book I’m reading, and how did the writer get me to assume this and feel that. Can I do these things, too? Wondering, experimenting, learning. I love this activity. I am alive here. This is my me-ist me.
Here’s the paradox.
Under the energy, mess, and noise, my heart and mind are in stillness.
My creativity is rooted in stillness, the deepest internal pool of quiet. Infinity is here. Forever is here. All possibility lives here. My ideas rise from this place, rise from peace to become energy and activity.
It fascinates me that my creativity requires these seeming opposites.
One of my art professors regularly talked of getting to know and use paradox and the awkward in the work. I know he didn’t mean the kind of paradox I experience every day, but his words stick in my memory, a reminder to be comfortable with all that surfaces when I draw and write.
Embrace it all, the mess and noise, the stillness and quiet. Opposites creating wholeness.
Being told to be still wasn’t wrong after all.
And maybe a single welcoming, perfect, light-filled studio is exactly what I need.