16 Jan Finding Inspiration in the World around us.
Finding Inspiration in the world around us.
There is nothing worse for me than when I can’t see the wood for the trees. Not being able to see the wood for the trees is a condition I have suffered with since childhood and I mean suffered! I can remember it being written on my school reports and I am confident that my dense style of writing as an undergraduate illustrated this too. Whilst I have made attempts to overcome this with simple things such as relaxation, applying techniques that help with summarising, developing the ability to communicate the main points etc I still feel overwhelmed by the detail of life.
When I look at a subject whether in written text or imagery I see ‘everything’ at once. Whilst my eyes will focus in on details all the details will be fighting for my attention. It really is quite challenging and even when I am reading a book the words will often blur in to each other as my mind tries to relate them to previous paragraphs and characters and descriptions. Basically I live in utter chaos inside my head! However, it is so familiar to me and despite all the attempts to control, change or just adapt it I have come to accept that it is simply the way my brain works and the only action I now take is to communicate all the things that win the battle for attention and this I guess is what comes out in my art. The Art that comes out of the battle ground often means that what I choose as subject matter is more than likely going to be my interpretation of something that I believe to be very important. After all it has fought for attention and won over lots of other ideas.
To give you an example, I have been struggling to prioritise since December. After a hugely, overwhelming and successful November whereby, I brought my Iceland Series to fruition with a well received Exhibition hosted by the Ambassador for Iceland at the Icelandic Embassy, London I have not been able to filter ideas and experiences and stimulations as they bounce around inside me. An idea would come to me “oooh I can do such and such now ….” But my brain has not been able to hold the idea for very long and if I didn’t record it in some way it was gone. I find it very stressful when I think I have lost an idea. It may be an idea that came to me when I was driving to pick the children up and by the time I get to the destination and think I’ll write it down it’s gone.
Over the last 6 weeks this has been really getting me down and usually the ideas would come as I walked the Dog. I would get an inkling that would grow in to an idea and I would promise myself I would write it down when I got home but when I got home the thoughts were just mush! It was as if being outside in the open air was the only place where the ideas could live. Thus I could be found regularly over the last few weeks wandering outside sometimes with the dog sometimes alone just muttering to myself trying to formulate ideas and trying to remember thoughts.
I share this because it has shown me something that I have always known but too often ignored. I refer to the fact that our brains need space and freedom to formulate ideas and for me the outside environment is fundamental to this process. Furthermore, our brain needs to exercised and nurtured like a muscle in our legs before and after exertion. The tension, chaos and lack of focus that comes from over working and over thinking is as important to nurture and rest as you would the athlete’s leg muscles after a big race.
Thus I am relieved to now appreciate the process of creativity and the supportive environment that is required to allow the brain to function at it’s best. I am not great at resting and often feel I live as if it may be my last day. Whilst that can be a useful mantra it can also be a self defeating and exhausting one. I have spent too many days over the years during these periods of what I will now refer to as “creative fatigue’ worrying that I may never have another creative idea again and I’ll never write another Og Story or be able to paint a great wave full of power and emotion. When what I should have been doing is simply enjoying the process of “re-balance”. I am also really grateful to Justin Hall who invented the concept of the Blog! I have come to value the process of blogging in the same way a Cognitive Therapist would for the clients that they encourage to record thoughts, actions and feelings. I have been on both sides of that experience as the patient and as the Counsellor and the only difference for me as I am blogging now is the confidence to know how cathartic the process is.
The reason why I have started my blog today is because I can see that my mind must be nearly re-balanced as today whilst walking the dog a spark of an idea for an Og story started to formulate. As I walked up and over the common I passed through the Ferns that are nearly over. As I looked down at the copper coloured tendrils I was reminded of how fascinating the lifecycle of these Ferns has been and how much of that life cycle I have noticed and how much time I have spent pondering over how dramatic those changes in size, colour and form are over the course of a year. Today I was able to walk over the dying remnants and on to the land that only a month ago consumed and hid my Dog for half an hour. The density of the foliage a month ago was incredible compared to now and is unrecognisable to the flourishing 4ft high green Fern of summer.
For some reason that process of growth and change seemed important to notice today and made me remember when my dog got lost in it, camouflaged by colour and dense, copper coloured foliage. I could imagine the bewilderment of The Ogs who would have easily decided to set up camp in such a place well hidden from a prying eye. (It is as this point those of you who have not yet met The Ogs may wish to avert your ears as you could easily misinterpret me as an absolutely, unbalanced, crazy mind hahha as you may not be ready to see how The Ogs communicate with me) However, for those of you who know The Ogs, you will be able to image the distress they would feel if having made their home in the Ferns waking up one day to find they were exposed to the elements and onlookers eyes!
Moments of creativity like this are what get me up in the morning! My mind is filled with ideas of how to relate such a lifecycle process to children in funny yet insightful ways. How many of us have experienced shock and horror at how something that seemed so perfect suddenly changed beyond recognition. I often think The Ogs came in to my life to help Funny folk like you and I to manage observations, experiences and changes like these. In the past their diaries have tried to share thoughts and feelings that remind us all that we have the wisdom and strength to cope with much of what life throws at us and to celebrate who we are because let’s face it we are Funny Folk and The Ogs think we are Awesome but they notice that we sometimes don’t realise just how wonderful we actually are! The Og stories try to remind us!
I started this blog suggesting that I have a history of not being able to see the wood for the trees but I will end it with a new title for an Og poem: “We can’t always see the Wood for the Trees but do you remember the day we could see the Ogs in the Ferns?” Well, it may not come to anything but I love it! I will leave it here for today as I have Ferns to photograph and Ogs to hide!
Thank you kindly folk for listening.