I read this passage by Marcus Auerelius a couple of months ago and it’s been on my mind since:
“Don’t ever forget these things:
The nature of the world.
How I relate to the world.
What proportion of it I make up.
That you are part of nature, and no one can prevent you from speaking and acting in harmony with it, always.”
I’ve been making an intentional effort to get outside a lot more lately. Initially, I felt these extended outdoor sessions should be centered around something “productive”. I donned a trail running vest, peppered it with art supplies, and jogged a 5K each weekend for over a month. Some evenings, I’d pack up my big art kit (“The Works”), choose a subject under the open sky, and nature journal until the setting sun sent me homeward.
Last weekend, I drafted a portion of Life Noticed outside on our back patio, determined to spend as little time indoors as possible, even though that meant spending those precious moments outdoors looking at a computer screen. I was under a deadline, after all…or was I?
When I began writing Life Noticed in June 2022, I did so with a personal goal of writing an article a week for three months just to see how I felt about the format. Three months turned into thirteen months (with two, planned weekends off for holidays), and the goal of one article per week held fast.
I regarded my one-article-per-week goal with such gravity that I went into most weekends with sincere angst over how I was going to synthesize the themes I wanted to explore on such a tight schedule. There have been numerous occasions when what I’ve wanted to share felt too big for any single Sunday, and because of this, my deeper take often didn’t make it out into the world. I was so preoccupied with showing up and producing that I neglected to acknowledge what I needed to thrive within my own creative production.
It’s a hard thing to admit to myself, but I have been allowing a completely arbitrary, self-imposed weekly deadline to determine the depth of what I share and when I share it. Most weekends, this deadline keeps me from unplugging to the extent I’d prefer, pulling me back inside the house to write at my computer when what I need most is to let go of schedules and get lost in creating for the sake of creating.
Culturally, I feel we’ve become so fixated on the sharing portion of our creative pursuits that we have stripped away the meaning behind what we make, granting everything and everyone but ourselves control over what we do and how often it’s due.
All this time I’ve spent outside lately jogging, writing, nature journaling, and just being has reminded me that just as nature has its rhythms, so too do I, and it’s time for me to make some adjustments.
I have a deep-seated need to always be making. Creating is in my bones and I don’t think that will ever change. I’ll continue to fall deeper in love with nature and art in its many forms, and I’ll continue to write in my daily journal and share any discoveries I think might be helpful to you on your journey…but I want these personal creations of my making to be shared on my own terms, and I’d like to honor the subjects that require a deeper dive (and therefore more attention) by giving them and myself the patience we deserve.
I began writing Life Noticed during a tumultuous time which led me to go through a lot of creative questioning, and, despite my introversion, I felt a strong desire to share my journey with others who might face similar challenges. I still do.
My hope was that I could turn my struggles into something positive for both you and me, and that by doing so, I could someday look back on each struggle as a beautiful gift because it would have helped me help someone else. I hope you’ll continue to join me along the way, even if I do disappear for a while from time to time to meander and think things through.
Afterthoughts: If you’d like to learn more about how I find stillness during unsettling times, here’s a video about what I do to move forward mindfully.