‘The Great Pause may have stopped me wandering, but it hasn’t stopped me from wondering’India Flint
One of the topics that has come up recently for me is that of being out of rhythm. In my work for the council, we are supporting children as they manage change from being at home to being in a setting or school, and supporting families to re-introduce the lost rhythm of the day, of sleep or activity. The daily rhythm can be very protective physically and psychologically so when it is lost it can be no small thing. It got me wondering how I had experienced lost rhythm over the last few months…and…how it was returning and looking a little different.
I wonder if this resonates with you? Most of us were stunned into stillness as we tried to understand the situation and were prevented from living in our daily rhythm, yet over the weeks I have seen family, friends and artists start to adapt, to change, to harness the power of social media and find ways to flourish. We are adaptable creatures, us humans, and of course being adaptable is central to our creative wellbeing and productivity.
Firstly, I have had time to more deeply consider how I use time for creativity and to claim what suits me best. There’s a lot out there about how to harness time, making the most of small dollops of it, getting down to it and quite a lot of ‘shoulds and oughts’. For me, it’s a bit like the difference between taking a shower and a bath; the daily shower is refreshing and perfunctory and sometimes I get a small job sorted, glue something or machine a few lines, but more often than not it’s like needing to wallow in the luxury of time for a bath. It takes me time to think about steps and choices; I don’t want to be rushed and I like my talismans around such as the never-ending coffee mug and favourite playlist. I work best when I have time in front of me and of course, there has been more of that recently. I can work for a whole day but working for two in a row is really tiring. There will be pros and cons whatever your rhythm but the important thing is to notice it and say ‘yes’ to what works for you. There is no one way.
I have also found a new evening rhythm. I’m not someone you would use the word ‘zest’ to describe, I’m totally done at the end of a day’s work and need to re-charge on the sofa but I have found a greater enjoyment in hand-stitching. If I’m honest, when I am still, I am also a wee bit mentally restless as I think there is a voice in the back whispering that I’m wasting time. My little wooden trug of stitchy bits has become a daily companion, I have settled into a new rhythm of hand-stitching that is pleasing me deeply. In turn, it is becoming a louder demand in my work and I see that I am making choices that will require it so that I will always have something to sit and stitch into. I understand that having this is something very familiar to folk but it’s just something I recognise has grown for me over the months.
Most of us have recently found new rhythms of physical activity such as the daily walk, the on-line yoga, dusting down ye olde exercise bike or hours of gardening! The inspiration found from visiting ‘there’ has become celebration of ‘here’ as we have looked at what has been around us all the time. Anthony Gormley has recently written about the creative upsurge of creativity and the advantages of staying put.
I have been taking daily walks on several loops from my home. We have found a whole area to walk in that we hadn’t explored before, and I am much more aware of the slow changes over the weeks and months. This has generated some small acts which I hope will eventually become a collection celebrating ‘Here in a Year’. The daily rhythm of walking is both a source of physical and creative wellbeing.
All this said, the steady rhythm like the rhythm of the heartbeat, gets very little attention in our awareness and memory. We are not aware of it unless it is stimulated to beat faster, or misses a beat. And so it is with other rhythms, we fall into step and time whizzes by. Our brains crave interest and difference and we have had less of that recently. We are likely to look back and see the Spring months as one period, one single memory. (I can’t remember the episode but this was mentioned on ‘The Messy Studio’ podcast.) At work, we are trying to support young children who need to return to both the helpful rhythms of the day, but also to re-ignite experiences that create difference and memory as this is crucial to wellbeing and learning.
And it’s just the same for us. So I leave you with a few questions: have you found yourself in a new creative rhythm at home? Does it remain a little lost? Perhaps it could be supported by recognising your preferred ways of working? Or perhaps it’s time to break the steady rhythm and do something to make your creative heart miss a beat! 😀