Monday, September 30, 2013

Hide and Seek

There’s something I’ve noticed about making art. I offer it to you as a talisman to carry in your pocket. Here goes:

Creation loves to play hide and seek. Loves it. Like a child who will not come in for a bath until you’ve searched the darkening yard one more time. Doesn’t matter that you say: “I mean it, you come here this instant!” She just giggles.

Creation loves to jump out and surprise you.

Here’s the catch—though the game is on all the time, it’s being played in the real world. Not happening in TV world, or Facebook world, or video game land, or worried-sick-about-the-bills-ville.

And since the real world is only happening in the present moment, then to play you actually have to be present yourself. It won’t work to go for a walk only to perform historic battle reenactments in your mind the whole way—“Then he said, then I said, and she couldn’t believe it, and oh how I wish I had said…” That’s the best way in the world to squish all the fun out of a good game of hide and seek.

You’ve got to actually be looking. Play along. Search in all the unexpected places—like down the storm drain to see what child’s toy washed away in a recent rain. Notice the way your elderly neighbors hold hands (or don’t) while walking the dog every day, or the way the dog jumps at doves impossibly high on a wire overhead. Look for your next idea through the windows of cars parked on the street. In the colors and aromas and textures in the Portuguese dish you made for supper from a second hand recipe book you found at a neighborhood garage sale. 

Don’t tune out in line at the grocery store—and for heaven’s sake don’t even look at the magazine racks. Instead, listen. Observe. Never stop peering through walls and around corners to where your muse is hiding. Listen for the giggles that tell you when you are getting warm.

In those times when making art seems hard and no fun—close your eyes, count to twenty, and say "Ready or not, here I come!"

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