I’ve been at Caldera the last two weeks, a gorgeous, remote arts residency near Sisters, Oregon. I haven’t been on an artist residency since before my son was born (actually, the last time I was in residence was four years ago in upstate New York, at EMPAC. I was pregnant but didn’t know it, though the fact that I cried three times a day while I was there might have tipped me off). I can’t tell you how wonderful it’s been to be in residency again, what a luxury it is to dedicate time and space to recharging my creative spirit. This is what I want for all of us, every human being. Two weeks a year to go to a beautiful place in the mountains and remember who you are and what it means to be alive.
Some of my time here has been with my family, and it’s been fantastic to get away from our everyday lives and go deep into art and nature and snowball fights and hot cocoa together.
But I’ve also gotten to be here by myself for five days and I cannot tell you what a gift it has been. I’m getting a little choked up while I write this. Because as much as I love my family, I didn’t realize until my husband and kiddo drove away how long it had been since I’d had real alone time. With nothing to do but get out my art materials, tape notecards to the wall, and spread out my laptop and keyboard and microphone and cables instead of carefully keeping them out of toddler reach. The first day, I cried every hour or so at the joy of being able to stretch out and putter around and watch the snow fall outside. (This might have something to do with the fact that I’m pregnant again, but I digress).
I say this not to brag about my wonderful alone time, but because I bet there are many of you out there who would love more of this in your life. And the thing is, it’s HARD to make space in your life for doing nothing. For reading or watching a movie or losing yourself in thought.
There are always too many important things that need doing, and now more than ever there is this urgency in the air, the need to take action and not waste time. And yet — AND YET — nothing makes me feel more deeply alive than walking in the moonlit snow and listening to the night. Tending to a fire in the morning, making tea at night. And you know what happens when I feel deeply alive? I get creative, and I get clear, and I move fast.
Nothing creative happens without that vital first step of WASTING TIME. That’s when the huge insights hit! That’s when the clear perfect plan presents itself! That’s when true bonds of friendship are formed, it’s how community is created. Amazing things can happen when you step out of your everyday life, when you give yourself permission to ESCAPE.
My first day alone here, I gave myself full permission to waste time, and had a magical walk and recorded two new songs and put all my ideas for my new show up on the wall and jotted down my business plan for the next year.
The second day, I got nervous about time running out, and thought I’d better get productive. Can you guess what happened? Somehow I ended up spending ALL DAY learning iMovie so I could turn one of the songs I recorded into an impromptu trailer for my new show.
I’m not mad about doing that — I kind of dig what I came up with even though it’s terrible — I’m just saying, it is no accident that the day I gave myself permission to do nothing, I ended up doing a lot, and the day I tried to get all my shit done, I ended up wasting it on something that is at the bottom of my to do list.
Anyway. I’ll be carrying this lesson with me and trying to remember it back in the hubbub of my daily life, as I try to make time to work on my new show, and remember that the most efficient way to work on it is to allow myself time to mess around.
You’ll be hearing more about my show, which is linked to my spring creative magic programs, because I’ve made the decision to do a first showing of it at the Fertile Ground Festival this year. You can read more about it here: Do You Believe in Magic.
And if you’d like to find out about creative magic and how to get some in your life, registration is open, man! Read all about that here: Creative Magic Workouts.
And I will leave you with images from my time at this magical place:
Oh god, and okay, here is the trailer. I know, it’s terrible.