"Do less, achieve more."
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? I got this little nugget of wisdom from Elaine's daily devotional book. She read it out to me as we were driving to South Carolina over Christmas break. When I heard it I thought it made sense, especially in light of a) my more demanding work responsibilities b) my desire to simplify/ organize my home and work environments, and c) the recent value I have found in a more contemplative artistic practice. OK, I thought, I now have a New Year's resolution.
Then I read the fine print:
Your unhurried pace of living will stand out in this rush-crazed age. Some people may deem you lazy, but many more will be blessed my your peacefulness.
I like the first part of that bit, but to be honest with myself I'm a little apprehensive about the latter part. Rather, I am more concerned that I am "some people." I hate to have to admit that but it's true. I'm not sure I am ready to let go of my busy-ness. I'm not sure I really want to "do less," unless it leads to some kind of tangible "achieve more," and I'm pretty sure that's not the kind of "achievements" the author had in mind.
Polly Laffitte, former curator of the SC Museum of art, once described my work as combining "the frenetic pace of modern life" with the "slow, deliberate pace" of working with clay. I always thought that was a great description of what I was doing. That felt like achieving some kind of balance. But now I feel like it's a false balance, one that is achieved by running back and forth from one side of the teeter totter to the other. I'm not so sure that's sustainable anymore. Anyone else feeling this problem?
So, while I am not quite ready to make "do less, achieve more" a full blown resolution, I will at least adopt it as my "reso-mantra"- a reminder I can give myself throughout the year to help focus my puppy-like attention span. If I can walk, instead of run, from one side of the teeter totter to the other it'll be a nice improvement.
As a practical measure, I am gong to start by putting all of my goals in one basket. I got this idea from the free e-book "Making Your Life as an Artist." I have typically thought of my life as a series of competing roles, each with it's own set of goals, all vying for time on my calendar: artist, husband, father, teacher, tennis player...etc. I am going to try to think of all the goals I have as essentially "equal," and then prioritize them and put them into seasons of the year. The idea here is twofold: 1) to stop thinking that all goals are in competition but rather see them as dominoes that stack and fall in order and 2) to develop more realistic expectations of how much I can accomplish (which theoretically should allow me to better prioritize and say "no" to peripheral projects).
We'll see how this turns out next year.
the studio chair
A place for me to ramble on when I need to take a break.