We are in a new place, and we are finding our way.
When I’m at my best I can be still, then take action. In my not-so-great moments I’m paralyzed and avoidant, then distracted and busy.
As makers and artists, we are always engaged in the back and forth dynamic of sensing and responding to what already exists, and creating something new. This dynamic moves between stillness and action; two energies of creativity.
My avoidance and paralysis look like stillness, and my distracted busyness looks like movement. The difference is they lack vision. They lack intention.
At the start of this pandemic, my friend, Sister Nancy called the current situation “Radical Lent.” I’m a heathen, so I needed her to explain.
She said she views Lent as a time for stillness, and looking inward. It mirrors nature going dormant before the emergence of spring. “It’s not about giving up chocolate for a month,” she said. (Thank god.)
Without changing the facts of this crisis, I find my friend’s assigned meaning helpful. This idea of “radical stillness” repeatedly reminds me to shift into that space of true creative energy, rather than mindless distraction, busywork, consumption, and catastrophizing—and I need repeated reminders.
Pulling out my long-neglected cello, tuning it, and struggling through a C-major scale is one way I practice radical stillness these days. I’m living in the spaces between those notes. I’m meditating on the shift from sharp to flat. I’m feeling the weight of my bowing arm, and the vibration of sound against my chest.
If shelter-in-home is prompting you to want to spend more time with your weaving practice, or another creative activity, this could be an opportunity to dive deeper into it than you’ve been able to during normal times. I hope you are able to tune out the cacophany of input and news for a while each day, and find some moments of radical stillness.