Nobody really expects my programmer husband to work weekends. His is a creative job, but he keeps regular hours, even though there are times when travel and deadlines disrupt them.
Oddly, artists usually don’t live like this. I suspect that’s a habit from youth, when we all worked a second job to enable us to make art. Painting was something that was carved out of stolen time, and that was only possible on weekends and at night.
Still, a professional in any field needs time to regroup, to rest, and to refuel the inspiration that drives him. When I lived in Rochester, I worked six days a week but was careful to take off every Sunday. Here in Maine I’m limiting myself to five days a week. Yes, in the summer, there will be weekends I’ll work, but I want to live as measured and rhythmic a life as possible, one that turns in its seasons and allows time for family and rest. I really doubt I’ll be less of a success because I cut my hours back.
On Saturday I told a fellow artist that I couldn’t go out to paint; in fact, it was time for me to clean my house and studio. “I’m very sorry,” she responded. In fact, I like cleaning. It’s methodical, meditative, and it soothes my soul. It took me years to realize this, but my previous Bohemian lifestyle impeded my creativity rather than releasing it.
Our youngest kids will be home from college soon.Their rooms are dusted and clean, but that was as far as I got. I’ve been nursing a bad back for a week. Changing a bed on Saturday, I twisted wrong and all movement came to a sudden halt.
Even the help of my fellow painters isn’t going to make it possible for me to paint en plein air right now. This is an old, old problem and the only solution is rest. I’ve seen multiple specialists in the past 15 years. The diagnosis is always the same: there is no surgical solution for which the results justify the risk.
Sometimes, you have to accept what God offers with good grace and see it not as a barrier but a gift. Today, instead of running down to North End Shipyard to paint the schooner du jour, I will be sitting in a comfortable chair finishing the work that’s piled up as I’ve careened from spot to spot. At noon, I will gingerly rise from my chair and see how far I can toddle.
The journey of a thousand miles sometimes begins with a good rest.