a thought : \ Impressions and expressions
Art and slumps – this feeling that ”I should make something” is constantly gnawing in the back of my head. It's probably a feeling that many who have assumed creativity as part of their identity can relate to. ”I should make something”, but this making also needs to be public and visible, open and a well formulated statement of myself; a gateway into further communication with me. I should make something.
It's easy to forget that we live in seasons. The city lights that surround me make the enviroment visible to my limited, human vision even during the dark hours of the day. I can always get food in stores – I just go and get it. It is where it is, there is nothing I need to hunt, catch or track in order to maintain myself. I can always be reached on the phone by close ones who are far away, my adress is to be found on the internet and my door is always open. Everyone works, day and night. Everything is moving along.
During these circumstances, things such as winter depressions or dips in general become a weakness – a dip doesn't follow the constant tempo we have made up for ourseves. A dip becomes an obvious interruption that can not be motivated. Or rather, it can't be motivated within the framework constructed by our civilisation. Because we have lights now to light up the dark – doesn't it mean we have made the world brighter? Then we can just go back to work.
But the truth is that the sun has barely made it up over the horizon during this half of the year. The truth is that the trees are fast asleep and that the streams have frozen over. Small animals leave tracks in the snow and in a quiet world, they too move slowly.
We know this truth, even if we have built walls to keep it out.
We have this truth in our bones, we can feel it whenever we go out before the light of dawn. It's not only around us that the world takes a break, hibernates, rests and sleeps. It's also within us. In the pace of our blood circulation, our digestion, in the light frequencies travelling through our optic nerve. We are saturated in the pace of the world, and right now the world is heavy, frozen and slow.
I too am heavy, frozen and slow. ”I should make something” I manage to think, and click onto the next episode of whetever on Netflix. ”I should make something”, and I take a shower just to get warm. I check my inbox, I press ”like” at something and then lay down to rest for a while.
I should make something – but why?
During a walk in the forest my attention is caught by two small birds who are climbing around the trunk of a tree. I have lifted my heavy, winter-suited legs up this hill and through the snow, everything else it still and I am exhausted. That's why I notice them: even though they're small and their movements are subtle, they are the only ones, apart from myself, who are moving around in this forest right now. I go a bit closer and walk around the tree to get a look. One is a nuthatch and the other is a treecreeper. The nuthatch escapes to a higher branch as I approach, but the treecreeper lets me get quite close before leaving the trunk with something that looks like a fat, white larva in its beak. But there can't be any larvae around now, right?
I take in the forest as I'm standing. The sunlight falls in through the branches, which are thickly covered with snow. All the branches look black, and all the tree trunks feel so compact and silent. I wonder if the circulation of water that takes place within them during the summer has stopped completely now, or if there is some vague, vague pulse still. My own pulse is steady and my cheeks are cold. I feel how my body temperature is challenged by the cold, but my circulation still manages to generate heat from combustion, and my clothes manage to isolate that heat to me. My breath turns to smoke and resolves in the cold.
It's easy to forget that we live in seasons, but we need to remember that. There will be times when our surrounding slows and stops, and it's important that we follow the rhythm of that. To slow down gives space for impressions and an opportunity to listen, because everything else is silent. A pause gives space to change of course, consideration and rest, rest, rest.
The seasons are part of a balance and the balance is frail. The balance is within us, even if we gladly turn away our gaze and get back to work. But we can't, and we shouldn't. We already see what pain it causes.
”I should make something” is not my own thought – it's a symptom. A symptom of me living in a time of constant tempo, a time when the cities have deceived us into the belief that this is all there is. How stupid is that? When the truth is that times change, seasons shift and the tempo varies, both during and between our generations, depending of latitudes and winds. When we slow down we can feel that, because we have it in our bones.
And with this I don't want to say that everyone absolutely follows the pace of the seasons – seasons shift and vary between continents and it is inevitable that some may find their time for impression while others on the contrary find their time for expression when everyone else around them has gone to sleep. What I mean is that we shouldn't for a second imagine that our pace should be the same constant that is required of us today in our production-oriented societies. We too vary.
I will make something. This is also true. Right now is the time for pause and impression. The time is for me to listen and take in, keep and process. But there will be a time when what has been kept and processed will become an expression. It happens already in the words I am assembling into new sentences, but I also mean that sooner or later there will be a time when the expression is more consistent, when the tide turns and the season of creation and doing takes over. The season when the symptomatic thought instead becomes ”I should rest”, but again it will be a time of which I will not be in total control. It's the season. It's in the bones.
What's most important is that we don't forget the balance. Our place is not only by the desks, following the light of our lamps and our computer screens. Our place is also in the meat, in the bones and the tissues. Our place is among the trees and on ground through which we can feel the pulse of the season instead of simply knowing the time and date.
Our place is where we can shift between impression and expression, take in and give back. Because what is expression, if not a giving? I have gratefully received, and now I take care of my opportunity to give. My expression, my contribution to the pace of the world, not for money but because it's my obligation. It's all of our obligation, as makers and as humans. We have found ways to capitaize on something that at it's base is our responsibiity: to give. To receive demands to give. There needs to be balance. And it's everyone's task to take care of that balance.