This word has many meanings. Some negative, some positive. Over the past year, I've learned that certain routines are essential for a productive, creative and satisfying life. It's ironic that for most people's working lives, they yearn for the time when they can be rid of the chores and commonplace tasks that define everyday activity. But when those activities and tasks are removed, a person can find they are rudderless. Sure, it's great to be "free", to do fun stuff on the spur of the moment. But it's dismaying to find out that when you have too much "free" time, it becomes difficult to structure that time so as to be productive. I finally understand why many people who retire from their main careers choose to go back to work, in some fashion. Human beings need structure, routine. And if it can't be done on one's own, having the routine imposed by external sources becomes a must.
The transition to life in a new town has stretched out the process of creating new routines way longer than I'd anticipated. Things keep coming up to derail me. Internal factors, external factors, family, weather— you name it. Having been a successful self-directed person for the majority of my adult life, this situation is stressing me out! I have been super slow to re-ignite my creativity, to do much meaningful artwork, and I have been worn down by this. But I am not defeated! I am working on cultivating patience, but an active patience. While I wait for our new studio to be built, I must plug away at new ideas, new techniques, to create new work. Even if it's in my tiny bedroom studio, I can't let that be an excuse to not be productive.
Breaking an old routine to help set up the new When an activity becomes automatic, with no significant gain, it's time to reassess its value. For the past 13 years, I have attended the Society of American Mosaic Artists annual conference. Over the years it has meant many things to me: finding a community, "our tribe" as has been mentioned often, the opportunity to learn, travel, deepen friendships and further careers. Then it became a giant annual party to reconnect with friends for a week of revelry. An expensive week at that. This year, standing at this crossroad, I had to make a big decision. Where would my investment do the most for my personal growth as an artist? Without unlimited funds, I had to make a choice. I'm using the money I would have spent going to SAMA on a week in Chicago instead. There I will take a five day workshop with Maestro Verdiano Marzi. The trip will combine artistic study with pleasure. Bob will come with me, and together, we'll do the things we enjoy most: explore vibrant cities, see baseball and visit museums. And of course, eat well and enjoy craft beer!
While this experience will be good, and I believe I will learn a great deal during the five days in Verdiano's workshop, I am sad to break my 13-year streak of SAMA attendance. As I read the schedule of speakers, and the workshops offered, I know what I will miss out on. One perk I always bragged about going to SAMA was that it was my opportunity to see new cities in the US. I was excited to see Detroit for the first time, but it will have to be another time. Sacrifices have to be made sometimes, and I am hopeful that my choice will help me on my journey forward.
In 2006 I was at a similar crossroads in my creative career. I expressed my feelings in a work I titled "Breaking the Cycle." I guess life is one continual journey of creating cycles, being happy in them, becoming dissatisfied, unraveling, and creating a new cycle. I'm looking forward to exploring this current new cycle.