HandyMan has a knack of saying almost nothing yet leaves burrs on one’s emotional pullover that simply will not come off. He has mentioned this three times to me. Once, I can ignore, but the second or third time means I am supposed to sit up and pay attention. The Artist’s Way is a workbook ( Ah. Instantly defensive…) for anyone who is creative, feels blocked in their creativity or wishes that they were more creative. The book begins with the statement that everyone is creative and has an artist within them, and the point of this course (is there an exam to pass and will I get an A grade?) is to recover that inner artist.
I sometimes wonder if this might be me. The cold, scientific pragmatist in me scorns such airy-fairy nonsense, but the deeper, gentler wavelets which occasionally surface into the light speak a different language…
The main assignments it would appear are deceptively simple, but require a willingness to see them through.( Commitment. H’m) The first daily assignment is the morning pages. These are three pages of longhand (longhand? Are you insane? ) free association writing.( this has always seemed grossly self-indulgent, like eating too much chocolate) It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you fill those pages. As simple as that may sound, it’s tougher than it seems.( I bet it is…)
The main weekly assignment seems to be the “artist date”. One is supposed to spend two hours each week doing something for oneself – alone. The book tells me that this is tougher than it appears. It’s easy to let the dishes, the laundry, everything else get in the way of this weekly date, but it is very important. Just as anyone would woo a reluctant lover, so must one woo the inner artist, coax it out to play with fun and games.I’ve begun to speculate about what this really might mean, in reality – can I afford the time/do I have the emotional energy to play guitar or listen to some music or actually choose to behave selfishly?
I am informed that each chapter is a week, devoted to a particular aspect of recovering the inner artist. Each chapter discusses some of the pitfalls and problems and gives a choice of exercises designed to stimulate my creativity and sense of self. (Ah. Now we’re getting to it) These include listing imaginary professions, (why?) cataloguing things that I enjoy doing but have not done in a long time, describing myself at 80 (dead?), and listing my forbidden joys. (Ouch. Do I really have to?)
Just reading this all back to myself gives me a sense of chaos and ambivalence. Perhaps I should take up Tai Chi instead, which is beneficial for older persons.