As children, I remember my sister and I spending hours playing “Make Believe”. We reenacted our favourite movie, The Parent Trap, again and again. We made up stories which we then acted out, complete with costumes and props.
What we created felt so real to us.
And then, somewhere on that journey from childhood to adulthood, make believe was no longer appropriate. We were told to grow up.
I used to wonder why does ‘growing up’ have to include letting go of our capacity to play and create and imagine a world of magic and wonder?
It’s one of the things I loved about having children and now a grandson. I can play make-believe and no one tells me I need to grow up. When my grandson and I visit on FaceTime, he inevitably will ask me to show him the glittery butterfly I didn’t put away with the Christmas decorations. I fly the butterfly around the room and sing made-up songs as he watches, eyes wide.
In those moments, my heart knows complete, absolute, precious joy.
Yesterday, I began working on an art project I’ve been ‘creating in my mind’ for the past several days. The mind part isn’t so much about what it will look like, but rather, the meaning/purpose of the project.
The cover, pictured above’ is made from an empty Wheat Thins box just like the one pictured. Who knew that an empty cardboard box could be transformed into an art journal cover? My child’s mind did. My creative core did. As did my heart.
All it took was paint, time and a willingness to let go of my need to make something ‘perfect’. To choose instead to delve into the mystical nature of the creative process, allowing its urges to guide me.
In “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankl’s brilliant opus on what he learned from his time in a concentration camp he writes:
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
This experience of sheltering in place, of watching death counts mount, of fearing for my beloved’s well-being, of limiting our social interactions is my stimulus. What I write here, how I choose to fill my time, how I choose to feed my mind and imagination, are my responses.
Sheltered Wonders, as I’m calling this art journal, is how I am choosing to capture my reflections of these days and weeks of self-isolation.
I could choose to call it, The Covid Disaster, or something like that, but that would mean the journal would be about the virus. It’s not. It’s about the amazing gifts I’ve found during this time of sheltering in place. As my beloved and I have narrowed our world to quiet times at home, walks with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and time spent together, our pace has slowed and our relationship deepened. Sure, my waist may be a little thicker and my hair somewhat scraggly but the gifts of time to breathe easily, to wonder and create in the kitchen, the studio and on the page have been immensely rewarding.
Covid is a global stimulus none of us can escape.
How we respond now and in the days to come, as stay-at-home edicts are relaxed and the world begins to ‘awaken’, will determine our growth and our freedoms.
We can choose to keep the gifts of family connection, of time to slow down and find a healthier more liveable pace, of time spent baking, creating, sharing with those we love, the gifts that we’ve remembered, like childhood playtime, in this time sheltering in space.
Or we can choose to scramble back onto the hardtack reality of filling our time with the busyness of the past – a busyness that for many felt constricting and overwhelming.
How will you respond?
A note about Sheltered Wonder – It is based on themes for each page — things I feel are germane to my experiences during this time of self-isolation. Belonging. Companionship. Community. Peace. Pace. Purpose. Creativity.
I’d love to hear what you think are important themes. Please do share – like Nance whose comment on my blog yesterday inspired this post today, you may inspire a page or two in my Sheltered Wonder journal!