This “Artist Date” business is a real trip.
Seriously — even if you couldn’t care less about Walking in this World, you need to start scheduling Artist Dates for yourself.
What bowls me over more than anything is that we have to schedule an hour with ourselves every week just to remember to enjoy ourselves creatively.
Remember when we were kids? Childhood was different back then — I was talking about this with the Page recently. No Baby Einstein or “play dates” or rigorous athletic/musical/language curricula. On weekends the sun came up and our mothers shooed us outdoors with a broom and told us not to come back until sunset or dinnertime – whichever was later.
I spent years in the woods behind my house in Connecticut, building forts in the fallen trees from Hurricane Gloria. We skinned our knees, cried, and then got on our bikes and rode without a helmet until we cracked our skulls open and had to go home for Band-Aids.
I tamed wild creatures in the forest — snakes and birds and rabbits. Climbed trees and fell out of them. When I was older, we went pool hopping through the neighborhood after dark. We played multi-block games of hide-n-seek. We got dirty and got bored, made new friends, beat each other up, and then rode to the convenience store for Cokes made with real sugar.
We survived. But then somewhere along the line we stopped being spontaneous, stopped “playing.” We replaced “What should I do today?!” with “What has to get done today?”
I know, I know: You’ve got bills to pay, children to feed, a job to endure. No time for frivolous, spontaneous fun.
I get it. So at the very least, schedule a To Do item for yourself. Get out your iPhone or your Filofax and make a date.
For me, the Artist Dates have been all about mindfulness. We do a lot of rushing in this society, a lot of multitasking. Multitasking is particularly damaging. Instead of doing one thing well but slowly, we do two things half-assed (as my mom says).
Artist Dates can be the antidote to this too-much-at-once-ness.
I was talking about Artist Dates with my friend Kerry, who chose to spend one of her recent dates going to a local grocery with a ridiculous produce section — seriously, acres of apples — and chopping, washing and cooking for four hours in her kitchen. She was fully present with the preparation of food — just basking in the smells and colors, slicing and dicing. Feeding her soul in the process.
I spent my last Artist Date in a state of muddy bliss. The sun was out Saturday for the first time since November, and my new yard/garden/patio is in desperate need of some love.
I rolled up my sleeves and spent several quiet hours pulling weeds methodically and digging in the dirt. Not planning or rehashing, not fretting or trying to get it done.
I was mindful of each weed. I fully soaked in the vivid colors of my new plants, smelled the fresh earth and rosemary. Felt the sun on my face. It was amazingly restorative. I was bursting with creativity afterward, like my well had been refilled.
When we’re mindful of our surroundings and fully present with what we’re doing, time stops. It’s so clichéd, but we appreciate the little things. We very literally stop to smell the flowers. And in doing so, we replenish our creative selves.
Not a bad way to spend an hour. Afterward, you can journal about the results. Go schedule yours now!