My dear friend Monica is currently lamenting her third and youngest child, moving out of the house to pursue studies in the bright, bustling, opportunity filled city! My deepest empathy is with her as I too have been afflicted with the ‘empty nest’ diagnosis. INDIGNATION! Granted, I begrudgingly fell into this category a handful of years ago, and those feelings of uselessness and teetering on the cusp of despair, scratched hard enough to leave little grooves I can easily flow into again. What can be sadder than an empty nest, especially one so lovingly and perfectly feathered?
‘Domesticated’ female birds like chickens (even cockatiels and parrots) kept well fed in a warm, well lit environment that simulates ideal natural breeding conditions, will lay eggs. When those eggs are removed, what do they do? They lay more eggs. Fertilized or not, the nest continues to be filled. You see an analogy emerging. I realize, unfortunately, there’s a potential for a picture springing up in your mind of a lonely, misguided hen frantically laying un-hatchable eggs. (Pathetic clucker doesn’t even stand a chance of being a single parent!)
But, please stop there and adjust that image. I can tell you now that my picture is in a different light. Let me start out by stating emphatically that my two children (now fabulous young adults) are and always have been my life, my focus, my purpose, and being a mother has and always will unashamedly define me. It has been 6 years that they moved to the city to study and live their lives and they even refer to returning to Winnipeg as going ‘home’ (!). Yes, I have 'the look’ on my face. However, something emerged simultaneous to that event and it was no coincidence. I have been watercolour painting for 6 years...
A lot has hatched since that day. This very tentative egg offering is dated April 14th 2009. It is the first painting I remember in this watercolour binge, so Happy Painting Anniversary to me! My intent at the time was simply to interpret a white object, but O my ... now it seems sort of symbolic. That's crazy.
I think the only thing worse than that empty nest is one that is too full. And perhaps that’s my point. Any creative venture needs room. It will not be squeezed in. If you’re feeling conflicted or frustrated in your artistic efforts it may well be that it needs a bigger slice of your ‘life’ pie. Maybe it's just me, but my best results come when my headspace isn’t being filled with other issues, and my inspirations can be nurtured without the jabber of external noise. It’s a sublime and luxurious place to be, though even for me in my so-called empty nest, it’s an effort to achieve. I think that chasing it is useless as it’s something that just quietly appears once the other gobblers have burped and left the table. I’m not saying you should all go kick out your kids, since you may not actually have any, but we all have many worry-balls bouncing around our heads, taking more room than they deserve! Kick some of them out if you can, or give them due diligence and wait it out. They will pass. When we deliberately provide enough space and optimal conditions like the right light and warm temperature, the creative eggs will hatch. And timing is everything.
Another perk to an empty perch is that Momma bird gets to play her choice of music any time! I claim my Watercolour Anniversary as a worthy excuse to treat myself to some fabulous new music to paint to, relax to, dream to... and ah, just indulge in. Mark Knopfler's talent and genius is so inspiring! "Tracker" is his latest jewel. The track "Wherever I Am" is a duet with Ruth Moody (solo artist and one of the Wailin' Jenny's), another one of my musical darlings. Click the pic to sample the goods and hear a beautiful, intimate interview on Mark's approach to his own art. Do yourself a favour (give yourself a gift) and watch the whole video...
So, perhaps with some lovely background music, you will be able to clear some headspace in which to grow your creativity until it becomes something you are compelled to do.