The Hubs and I moved into a new house this November, and now that all the boxes are unpacked, and most of the artwork is hung up, we’ve started to work on the yard.
We’ve got some neglected fruit trees in the back, a huge colony of English ivy on the left side, and towering pine trees on the right. In the front, behind the suburban standard rhododendrons and juniper bushes, is a patch of sparse grass, thick moss, and zillions of dandelions that we charitably call a lawn.
I’m not really a lawn person. I don’t play golf, I don’t run through sprinklers, and I’d rather have a strawberry patch than perfectly level turf any day. I’ve got grand plans for the back yard – raised beds full of vegetables, a back slope with decorative grasses, and a hot tub where I can watch the stars. The front? No idea.
In the meantime, I’ve been pulled into the foreign land of people who deeply care about their lawns, and I’m trying it out. So we mow. I sprinkle compost on the dead places. Mostly, I pull a lot of dandelions.
First dandelion, I pry it out, and throw it in the bucket. Second dandelion, I go a few feet, pry it out, throw it in the bucket. Third, fourth, fifth dandelion – all of a sudden, I can see that between the first and the second, I missed about ten dandelions. It’s like in the doing of the task, my usually scattered brain snaps into laser focus, and sees all the dandelions that were always there, but were hidden by all the other things pulling away my attention. Hitting my groove is a beautiful thing, even if it’s just to find dandelions.
In the studio, it’s been harder. Making art is more complicated. It has a lot more steps to it than the find, pry, throw pattern of pulling dandelions out. I struggle with this. I enter the studio, thrilled to be starting a new project, get about a third of it going, and then hours later, realize that I’ve been surfing the web or playing a game instead of doing the hard work. On the good days, it’s as simple as dandelions, and I look up at the end of the day, surprised it’s over.
I think it’s something about needing to find the first few dandelions. I need to figure out a way to get the first two or three steps really started, give the laser focus something to zoom in on, and hope that the rest of the day can follow its groove. With my process, I think what this means is to start with creating. Save the other stuff for later – the business side, the web updates, the applications for shows – and do the real work first. Maybe if I can start with drafting and cutting a new piece, my attention will turn up the intensity and make the rest of the work easier.
What about you? What are you doing to find your groove in the work you’re doing?