Preparing for a long weekend away from home I found it a challenge to know what to bring. Art supplies, for sure. I work in mixed media, and have all the things for all the medias. I cant bring everything. What will I use, need, want to have. Sorting through I find a container, and determine what I choose has to fit in that space. Knowing I will have that one item that makes my project perfect is virtually impossible, I don’t yet know what that project will be.
Searching through two rooms of bits and pieces and tools and materials I am reminded I never seem to have that one thing that will make any project perfect.
Perfection is the enemy of good or .. better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without
I keep rolling these around in my head, trying to to know, that for me.. I am enough.. My work is good, perfection is non attainable.
A challenging concept for someone who has felt she is never quite enough. Just needs that one more thing to be perfect… lose 10 lbs, be a bit funnier, less anxious, more thoughtful…. How do you fit that in your suitcase?
By chance in my facebook feed I scroll past a posting from an artist preparing for the European leg of a year long teaching tour. She has condensed her baggage to one large suitcase and a carry-on. For months of travel. I am struggling to do that for 5 days. I need my comfort items, that things that ground me and are familiar.
The drive to Georgia is relatively uneventful. The very last leg, a single lane dirt road that ends in a very short, steep driveway. Climbing the mountain my traction light flashes, alerting me my car has taken over. It is keeping me from losing control on this bumpy ride. I dont have the tools to keep my little car grounded, but it magically takes over when I cant. Looking into the future I begin to feel anxiety about when we leave here, with two passengers, and the baggage that will be added.
The first day of makering one of the gals has a specific goal. A piece she has been thinking about, but cant quite conceptualize. Another participant has an inspiration piece she wants to do her way. On the sidelines others quietly work on projects. I roll clay into balls and try to make something come out of it, but nothing feels like it is ready to be made. My mind wanders.
All my baggage is weighing me down It’s not good, it’s not right, it doesnt flow. All the words of the past come flooding back… but now the new ones are trying to filter in… add this clay, it gives it texture and specks and stuff… makes it more natural so you don’t see the imperfections…. I’ve heard this before but it really starts to sink in… I watch this white dove become more beautiful because of it’s imperfections…
The conversation comes in bits and pieces. One topic to another, I start to dissect the dialog in my head, the way we dissect a figure to break it down into basic shapes.
A scientist in our group, one sidebar conversation we talk about real life dissection. From there I make the mental leap to frogs. My brother loves frogs, we make t-shirts with frogs, why don’t I make a frog.
As a group we work together independently. We pool our resources on the table, each taking what we need. We all share the eyes, the crystals and foil. Someone needs navy clay, someone is looking for a flourish here, and idea there.
By breaking my frog down to basics he slowly moves from an idea to a reality. Deb has just the thing for his red eyes. The perfect thing that wasn’t in my bag. He’s all mine, from my hands.
In the quiet of the morning, alone with my coffee I examine the work of others. No witnesses to my thoughts I quietly fear the bird no longer looks like she is going to fly off thru the door… the bits that have been added weigh her down. It is not a thought I will share… Art is subjective.. It may have been created with her fingers, but it is a part of her soul.
More conversation, I join in on a group project.. The Goddess. The clay form is a bit rough.. Not really the shape I was after, it doesnt have the form I was shown, but once we add the foil and color she becomes an ancient artifact… exactly as beautiful as she should be. Making your own way doesnt make you less, you are different, as you should be. I find myself replacing the old dialog with the new phrases and sound bites.
Adding more crystals and bits of brass and gold foil her bird begins to soar. Now almost complete, she has become so life like I can almost hear it’s heartbeat. I can see the artist is burdened by the idea of how to ground her… give her feet. The bird is perched on the branch.. Perfection. It is grounding enough. Nothing to hold her down she is poised for flight.
And just like that it’s over. A year long in the planning and it passes in a flash. I repack my suitcase and realize I never used the majority of things I couldn’t live without. Once again the fear drives me.. How are we going to get out of here… my little car will now be full of people and things I’ve picked up along the way.
No time now to worry.. I have dawdled and dilly dallied all I can. The moment of truth. We move the dumpster out of the way. After a 57 point turn in the driveway, we successfully navigate the incline, and make our way down the mountain. Somehow the friends that I have added to my little car have grounded me, and I keep my traction. I am in control. I have all the tools in my toolbox, and the people I have surrounded myself with have no doubt of my success. They trust me.
Trust the journey. Lighten your load by throwing out the things that burden you and weigh you down. Know that you will pick up what you need when you need it. The people who share your journey all have those little findings and fillers and glue that will hold you together. If your suitcase is full of the old baggage you have no space for the new.
I am not finding it easy to give up the old, these messages have been with me a lifetime. The first thing to throw out is “I think I can”. For so many years I thought that was an affirmation.. But really, it comes from a place of doubt. I am now reminding myself, I know I can, I have and I will.
Every little weirdo has a goddess inside of her.. Just rub some foil, brush powder in the cracks and shine.
I’m traveling lighter already.
Thanks, Mary….. Thanks Mary!