Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Space Between

tiny flower, 2014

I remember her telling me I must spend time alone each year. Not an hour or a day, but a week, or even two. It was, she told me, essential to my remaining whole, and not losing myself in a relationship. A creative person must remain an individual. She had, and believed it improved her sense of self, her relationships, and her work.

She was my tutorial instructor one semester during my MFA program. We often ended up discussing life more than work in these one-on-one courses. When making art is the work, separating work from life is difficult. One becomes the other and vice versa. So she instructed me in living an artist's life, although I believe she thought any person, man or woman, artist or not, should live this way.

When she traveled, she took the long way. She avoided airplanes and liked to drive instead, feeling every curve and bump she traversed, watching the landscape change, rolling down the windows and feeling the weather shift.

She wanted to feel the space between home and where she was going. She took the distance seriously. She believed in this ritual wholeheartedly. It was how she cleared her mind and made space for the new.

24 comments:

  1. amelia from z tasty lifeMay 1, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Denise: she must have been such a balanced person. I completely agree with the idea that a person (not just a creative person) must remain an indivual... as a teenager I had a fascination with meditation retreats. I think everyone should be strong and independent within, in order to be interesting, stay balanced, and related better to others

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    1. I didn't know her all that well, so I'm not sure if her life was actually balanced or not, but I liked the way she traveled. I've never been on a meditation retreat, but I have wondered if I'd like a vow of silence type retreat.

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  2. I spend a lot of time alone, so I think a vow of silence for a little while would be OK for me.

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    1. I wonder if we'd really like it, Michele. If you try it, let me know.

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  3. Great advice. (Funny--I was just planning a solo weekend.) Of course i"m curious who she is.

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    1. She is a landscape photographer. An interesting woman.

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  4. I wholeheartedly agree with her .... I like to think I am my own best friend. Last week I drove three days alone from Nebraska to Georgia and it was three of the best days of my life. It was exactly what I needed before I settle in with so many new changes.

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    1. Those three days seem pretty special, Sarah. So good to know you enjoyed yourself. I've never driven long distance by myself, but I have done so by train and plane. I've enjoyed different types of travel for different reasons, each mode has its pros and cons.

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  5. a wise woman....though I fly, I very much appreciate her way of traveling and knowing the distance

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    1. I fly too. Her way of travel makes me think of how different even a short trip within my own state can be depending on the mode of transportation--walking, car, bus, ferry, train, etc.

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  6. I love this idea. Thank you for sharing it!

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  7. this is why I wish train travel were more prevalent in our country. I love how the train ride feels, how it does all the work, how you can relax, surrender to the journey, and open up to the moment.

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    1. I agree, Nancy. We just drove a few hours south this weekend and my husband couldn't really appreciate the scenery while driving the car. A train would certainly solve this problem.

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  8. Such lovely & helpful thoughts. Time alone is always so delicious & refreshing!

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  9. Maintaining one's connection to oneself is so important for everyone and being aware of where you are in the moment really helps. Thanks for this reminder.

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    1. Agreed, appreciating what's happening in the moment is ideal.

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  10. Independence and creativity... a good sentiment to bear in mind, but sometimes harder to really do! I find myself so tethered to a million different things, that it feels like all independence is gone!

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    1. My instructor's version of alone time might not be for everyone, I'm not even sure I need quite so much time for myself, but I listened and took from her what made sense for my life.

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  11. In India, a commute between home and work is often long. While most find it tiresome, I never did. I needed the distance to sit in silence, on my one-hour cab ride in Mumbai, to unwind, shift spaces.
    But I don't know about living an 'artist's life'; a week alone to preserve one's individuality. There are more examples of creativity spurting out from chaos and lack of time and crammed spaces than from the luxury of time and space.

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    1. I used to commute on a train and enjoyed the quiet time to unwind before returning home. Now I walk and unwind. Sometimes I take the bus, get home more quickly, and then do my unwinding while prepping vegetables in the kitchen. I agree, there are many paths to creativity.

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  12. I can see the need for this…the chance to be away from the busy-ness of being with others…to let everything drain away and just allow yourself to be. I think I like her approach...

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    1. I'm thinking about planning a little solo trip. Some time to simply be is very alluring right now.

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