It's August and I can feel a shift in the air. I'm noticing the stars again as the nights get a bit darker a bit earlier. Just a little bit but enough to feel the tilt of the year. It's making me mindful that summer won't last forever and I need to absorb the sunshine, the warmth and fill myself with goodness and good experiences.
This strangest of years has taught me many lessons. Not least that I have more strings to my bow than I thought. Also resilience to see a project (or two) through. I've spent most of this year with 99 tabs open in my brain. Last week I closed all but a few.
I had the great pleasure of getting away to see the sea. It was so restorative to put my feet in hot sand and cool sea. I packed my usual creative projects of sketchbook and knitting. But mostly I just sat. I read the most wonderful of books 'The Salt Path' by Raynor Winn. Her and her husband's journey as they navigate loss and the South West Coastal Path was truly inspiring.
What I mostly did was look at the horizon. That imperceptible line where the heavens meet the earth. I absorbed the blueness of it all. I took off the year and laid it down and gave myself permission just to be.
My coping strategy has been to create a schedule of work, family, yoga - to take control of life and prove that I can cope. And I have - but it's left me tired. I've shifted away from planning to being in the moment - shifted from perfectionism to 'good enough' but there seem to be spaces missing. Life at home has no spaces between the responsibilities and pleasures of life. With few places open that I would usually seek solace and inspiration my journeys have been inwards. As we move into this new chapter of being, as we rekindle activities outside the home - it seems to me that the stress of the preceding months will spill over unless we take a chance to rest.
It was wonderful to go to the sea, to be still and I have brought some of that stillness home. I am taking the month ahead to recalibrate - to find balance between work and rest, being out and being in. I am planning a month of soul enriching adventures - listening to what I need and responding accordingly. They might be the smallest adventures - visiting the swan on the canal and her cygnets - a picnic somewhere new - a bike ride. But somewhere out there I hope to be able to fully rest and re-cooperate.
There's a saying by Voltaire "Il faut cultiver notre jardin" which translates as we must cultivate our garden and means that it all starts with us. Or as Gandhi said - "Be the change you wish to see in the world". I've been reflecting on how what I do affects all. How we are all intertwined and how in this year of change I want to grow.
Creative thinking allows us to develop as a species - trying and failing and trying again. we've had a boom and bust history, empires are built and torn down - but in reality change is slow and painful and the rebuild needs visionary thinkers.
Rarely has there been a complete shift from one human reality to another. Life is cyclical and our future vision needs to start that swing. I can feel that friction now and the need that we act fast. In my July blog, I wrote about acceptance of our creative failings - how renewed efforts again and again help us find our creative flow. We are going through a period as a society of accepting our failings but perhaps yet to find the flow, the momentum forwards.
I think this is a time for collaboration. We are, I hope, moving beyond 'them and us'. Leadership has been about divide and rule and yet that now seems outmoded. Our common humanity is now under threat from global warming and our ability to act cohesively will be our saviour. It's hard sometimes to see the positives in a system that is built on fear but beyond that many are forging new collaborative, creative paths. As a society we need to invest in creative thinking. I am a Fellow of the RSA whose main objective is to forge new conversations and collaborations to move us into a 21st century enlightenment. There work is wide reaching and enriching.
Applied to the bigger picture creativity moves us from being 'right' and 'wrong' and into 'maybe' and 'potential'. It moves us into a place of learning from others - just like when we enrol on an art class, we learn form the tutor, as well as learning so much from the group. We also learn that there are multiple ways to move forwards, no longer needing a hierarchy of 'I am right and you are wrong'.
As we face societal change and global warming, we need to keep this spirit of compassion, collaboration and global development. Applied to ourselves, we need to find our creative flow, compassion for self and others and collaborate - respecting what others can teach us. I believe each of us is a part of the whole and each individual action is a part of the group dynamic.
The process of making art is totally absorbing - a mindful place away from the troubles of the world. Taking time for creativity - to get lost in the process, to work through the challenges, to be in a mindset of 'can-do' and 'what if?' takes us into a space of personal development and self-reliance. Making art is an individual journey - no two creative responses are the same, even with the same intention.
All that we learn about ourselves when we create we can apply to solving our human crisis. We need to channel the spirit of hope and change and growth. We need to take personal responsibility for our action and inaction and create change. How are you going to contribute to this next chapter? What have you learnt, or adapted to, during lockdown that you are going to maintain for your health and that of others?