Filling The Well: The Space To Create

It’s been a quiet, grey day – the sky thick with clouds, periods of rain and wind whipping through the palms, and a choppy, restless sea. I’ve spent much of the day on the balcony, watching the water. We extended our stay in Caye Caulker, and I am feeling fully settled in this place. It has been wonderful to be by the sea, to swim, to relax. It has also been great to have long stretches of time spread wide open before me, with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

I’ve been thinking about the show I’m doing with Jamaul at the end of the month. It’s the next performance from our Altared series, which we premiered at the Image Factory art gallery in Belize City (I wrote a post about it here). This work is important to me, and full of rich themes and layers. Soon it will be time for rehearsals and attending to the details of the show, but right now I am contemplating and exploring ideas. It is the point in the creative process when concepts and images are formed organically, where having the space to fully engage, without time constraints, is necessary.

This is a vital stage in my process as an artist, and one that I often struggled to make room for in my life. The requirements of day-to-day living in New York meant that everything had to be scheduled, including time for creative and artistic endeavors. Having days (shit, hours!) of time to devote to creativity felt like a luxury. And because I often did not prioritize that time, it usually got snatched up by something else (job, wine, job) that seemed more urgent. Keeping this blog has helped me cultivate the practice of finding small pockets of time to create. But there is nothing like having an open road of time before me to delve deep into my ideas and follow them into the delicious unknown.

Which brings me to the most important thing I have learned about being an adult: I have needs.

I know, it sounds too simple. And not very deep.

But seriously, though.

I have needs. Different kinds – emotional, mental, financial, physical, sexual, spiritual. And creative. And after everything I’ve been through in my grown-ass life of thirty-nine years, I have finally learned that all of these needs are important. And things get real crazy when I ignore them.

For years I thought that being an adult meant always being “responsible” – keeping a steady job, keeping my bills paid, doing what was expected of me. Then I began to understand how what was happening in my life professionally and financially had a huge impact on me mentally and emotionally. And as an artist, I further understood the detriment of not creating – I don’t just mean not producing, I mean not respecting my needs by making space for creative exploration and expression. Which ultimately impacted me in every way. And so I went about the business of identifying my needs and figuring out how to get them met. And that is an ongoing process.

I am an artist, and that manifests in many forms. By approaching my needs in a holistic and balanced way, I make space for fuller and healthier creative expression. Sometimes that means taking the time to relax and be receptive, to allow ideas to ripen, to invite inspiration. Or, as I call it, filling the well.



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