See politics, post art. Make sure that comma is in there because otherwise it sounds like an invitation to watch politics create art. The phrase came to mind one day when I realized that my artist friends were more likely to make political posts than artistic posts. I don’t post about politics much, though I do read some every day. These are historic times. Imagine not reading the papers in 1775. Surprise, 1776 happens. I did hit a limit though when I realized I was seeing less beauty and art; so, rather than complain about the lack I decided to post art when I’d seen enough politics for the day. Some days that happens right after breakfast. Other days, dinner. Living frugally means respecting resources like time, not just money. As historic as these times are, I also want to make sure I see other parts of today’s world. One way to do that is pay an equal attention to art.
Insert self-centered plug here. Want some art? I’ve produced plenty. Whether it is pretty or beautiful or not is subjective. Here are some links so you can make your own assessment, and maybe find your own inspiration. My books via my Amazon Author Page. My Whidbey Island photos via the Gratitude Gallery. My Washington Cascades photos via Fine Art America.
But enough about me. What about you?
These are stressful times. Everyone seems to be going through a balancing act between knowing enough and seeing too much. That’s true for both sides (and the fact that there only seem to be two is a temporary illusion.) My and my family’s health history have proved to me the value and the difficulty in reducing stress. The good news is that it can be done without spending money. The bad news is that it may require spending time. The best news is that after you’ve mastered it, it takes no time at all; but of course then you are a monk of some sort.
For the last several weeks, since the day after Christmas, I’ve been working every day. Partly that is my Rule of 7. Partly it is because of an aspect of the Gig Economy; when work shows up, work, because it may not be there later. Something usually turns up, but until it does, anxiety can fill the void. Even my body is telling me that I’ve been sitting, typing, and squinting for too long. Within the last week, several projects have come to completion, which means some day soon I’ll be able to return to my de-stressing exercises, as soon as I can spend the time without having to worry about the money.
It would be entrepreneurial of me to say that art is the best way for me to reduce stress, and that it helps others do so, too. I’ll get to that.
For me, there are four times a day when a few minutes diffuse the tension.
1) When I wake up I stay under the covers and steer my brain back to thinking about how warm and comfortable I feel. My muscles are the most relaxed. I try to memorize that moment so I can remind myself of it later in the day.
2) It may sound like kindergarden, but I take a ten minute nap after lunch. It may not be long, and it may not be as effective as eight hours of sleep, but for ten minutes my body unscrunches and gets a chance to concentrate on digestion.
3) I thank Steve Smolinsky for putting a name to my late afternoon pause. He calls it a Clarity Break. Schedules mean I don’t manage to do it every day, but at about 4pm I find a seat with a good view, and sit there for the time it takes to drink a cup or a glass of something. Tea is good. Martinis happen, too. Lately, I’ve had to pull back from whiskey, even though that seems appropriate. Besides, I usually have two or three more hours of work to do. When there’s enough time, I try to include a few minutes of meditation.
4) I’ve edicted an arbitrary line at 9pm. I’ll only work past then if a deadline is approaching too quickly.
At each of those moments I remember the insight from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. There is only here and now. Most of my anxieties come from thoughts about things that could, might, are possible, in the future; or, they are thoughts about what’s happening in other places. Things to truly worry about here and now can exist, but adding all the possibilities from the past, the future, and the rest of the planet will always be more than a person can handle. Those other issues can benefit from our energies, but for a few times a day it is good to return to taking care of the person that is in this place and time.
Art helps me do that, particularly photography. Writing helps me express myself, but it is always about what was or what will be. No one can write about the present because writing always takes a finite amount of time. Photography, however, does the opposite. It usually records a finite, yet much smaller period of time, usually less than a hundredth of a second. An image is as close to a moment as we can get, as close to a now, or at least a remembrance of a now.
It’s after 7pm on a Saturday evening. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t posted any art today because I haven’t had much time to check my Facebook page. It isn’t avoidance, simply an overwhelming schedule (and I’m glad for the work, and the pay.)
I’ll draw this to a close with and image or two. One is from Twelve Months at Admiralty Head, an image that just happened to be sent in as a candidate for display at the local hospital.
The other provides another point of view on art and politics. It is a painting by Brian Kern, a long-time friend and artist who is using politics as inspiration for his art, and as a way to vent. It took longer to make than one of my photographs, but evidently didn’t take long. I think that may be why I can feel the energy in it.
Take your pick. Find your balance, and don’t be surprised if you find that it feels best to have a bit of both. But, if you see too much politics, maybe just post some art. (Or even buy some. My artist friends would greatly appreciate that.)