This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Sound of Paper. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.
While the mending entry isn’t really a blog or journal prompt, it does prompt me. It comes at a synchronous time. It’s advice I’ve been given many times over, last and most aggressively in a job where expectations for me were too high and support was too low. The advice was good, even if I was given absolutely no room to apply it: slow down.
I don’t slow down. This year I’ve caught myself jumping the gun, going off half-cocked, not stopping to get more information, not checking information, forgetting to go back and read the whole conversation…and we all know my typos quite well, don’t we?
I get impatient. I skip steps. I forget things. I rush.
This never does me any good, and it’s really about the bridge of trust between myself and whatever may be. I am a religious person, so I call that divinity. Trusting things will work out. Trusting that whatever lays at the end of my actions, it’s still good.
When I slow down, things turn out fine. The problem is that I still equate better with faster. I think most Americans do. It used to show up in my music lessons – I would rush through each measure, flipping my fingers, blowing my horn, stepping on the refined details that make music music. I believed that the ability to play a piece as fast as possible was what demonstrated mastery.
It did not. Quite the opposite. It showed that while I could certainly play each note, I did not have the true artistry of a musician. I did not perform the music. I just played it. (That I never enjoyed playing an instrument was likely also a factor.)
I have been gifted two years to complete my manuscript.
Yesterday, I tried making paper again. It wasn’t quite the disaster of my first tries. This time I slowed down. I watched some videos (I admit I skipped through to the parts that covered where I was having trouble.) Paper making is an exercise in patience, messiness, and the perseverance to clean up. You have to squeeze the water out.
Today I have one mishappen piece of paper, one that has fused to a paper backing, and one still on the deckle frame. I said something to Mike about giving up, but I’m rethinking this morning. I just need to take my time, and I need to get a bigger sponge. If I slow down and stick with it in the moment, I can turn out some perfectly good paper, maybe a few more sheets per session. If I slow down at the beginning and lay down paper and plastic in the kitchen, I won’t have such an onerous mess to clean up later.
Also, I am trying my hand again at T-shirt surgery. Once again, it’s about the art of slowing down. There’s never a reason to sew faster when you do it for yourself – and in that slowness I can carefully, deliberately learn to measure, learn to decorate, learn to create. Maybe I’ll even teach myself how to sew button holes this year.