Some people enjoy being busy, finding satisfaction in having a great deal to do. I have never been such a person, much preferring to move through life at a rambling amble, taking the days as they come. I enjoy my work, even when there is a lot of it, but I have never seen the appeal of rushing here and there in a never-ending swirl of activity.
Like anyone I have particular routines to my day, but they are simple and loose fitting enough to offer a lot of flexibility. My working practice is especially fluid – some days I will be immersed for hours in one thing and others will be spent flitting from one activity to another. I find too much structure detrimental to my work and so I have found a rhythm that allows both freedom and the discipline required to be productive.
Come forth into the light of things,
Let nature be your teacher
Yet this past month I suddenly found myself in my own swirl of too-much-busyness. In addition to preparing for next month’s exhibition, two other large work projects landed in my lap, each demanding a great deal of time. There have been moments when I have felt rather overwhelmed by this sudden increase in my workload as well as frustration at being kept from other activities, such as writing on this blog.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience
Ralph Waldo Emerson
But I have learned over the years that – no matter how large the load may be – taking time to walk and think and observe nature is essential in maintaining a proper perspective. After the deep quiet of winter, the first notes of spring are being sung and there is much to see: snowdrops, crocuses, wild garlic and daffodils are emerging all around and the trees are in bud. I am reminded that nature too has a season of great busyness as I watch the garden birds zipping to and fro in a frenzy of nest building.
Believe one who knows: you will find something greater in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.
Saint Bernard de Clairvaux
Like the industrious engineering of the Tit and Sparrow, Wren and Robin, my season of busyness is temporary. In truth, it’s all perfectly manageable when I apply the same order and wisdom to my days that creatures of the wild do. While they may not live to a schedule, they know what their priorities are and act accordingly. And so day by day I am doing what needs to be done, decidedly putting aside unnecessary diversions and those things that can wait for another time.
In the midst of this time of much-to-do I have found that I if I will keep rooted in what is important, weed out the distractions and listen to my body when it tells me it needs to rest, then I can return to a less-swirly pace. I am learning to be taught by the very creatures I spend so much time painting and mining the treasures of wisdom to be found in nature.
Even though this especially busy time will continue for a few more weeks, I will daily be taking the time to incline my ear to hear what the earth wants to teach me…
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.
About the Artwork…
‘Wild Pony’ (Acrylic on canvas ~ 9″ x 12″) is one of the paintings that will be exhibited next month in Dumfries from Tuesday 4th April until Tuesday 9th May.
She is currently hanging in my studio and, with a watchful eye, reminding me to regularly stop and listen…
Prints of ‘Wild Pony’ are available from The Honeybee and the Hare Etsy shop as well as my new Folksy Shop