May 1, 2013

Thinkin' again...this time about time.


Got the thinkin' cap on  - this time focussing on a conversation I had with BSP on Friday night.
It all revolves around time.  Time is my enemy. It works against me, conspires to confound me; I am deeply aware and almost fearful of the passage of time.
As a result, I've spent years feeling resentful, and trying to curb that feeling of resentment. Almost since I made my first quilt five years ago, I have felt resentful of the time I spend away from my studio. There were so many quilts I  needed to make. I made nearly 30 quilts that first year – mostly queens and doubles, a few twins, a lot of laps and a couple of baby quilts. 

People were shocked at the amount I was producing, but I was driven.




At first, I was driven only by joy and passion and that over-riding purpose in this entire journey: to get better. I wanted to make the quilts I saw in my head and I knew I had a million things to learn in order to do so. I made what I called my "schizophrenic oeuvre"  - quilts of every kind and style – but what were, I eventually came to understand, my journeyman quilts.

I was learning what I needed to in order to make the quilts I wanted to someday make and I was experiencing real, true joy in that journey.
And then my dream self told me to make an art quilt, and I fell down a rabbit hole. Since then, this feeling of resentment has only been exacerbated.
As much as I love my family; time spent with them was time in which I could have been making. As much fun as I had with my friends, time spent with them was time I could have been creating. As much as I love my BSP, golfing, dinners out, date nights – all valuable to our relationship as a couple and much appreciated when I took the time to enjoy them – they were all sources of resentment because of this ever-pressing matter of time.
For perhaps two years, I fought against this growing feeling of resentment, and finally, I thought, conquered it. So, on Friday night, as we lay talking in bed, I confessed this sin to BSP; who said "I knew you were resentful. … But now you're in mourning."
Until I heard those words come out of BSP's mouth, I wasn't aware of it, but it's true. I am in mourning: for the pieces that will never be made, the work I can't finish, the avenues and paths not taken, because of time, working against me.   
I don't know exactly how to combat this. 

I know I have to make my peace with time – after all, even if we had the financial wherewithal for me to work at my art full time, there still wouldn't be enough time to make everything I want to.  And regardless of whether I work full time or part time at my art, I have to not only "make" time for my spouse, my family and friends; I have to want to – and to enjoy it free of resentment, or regret. 



This past weekend and its loveliness was a real eye opener for me.

I took the time off and didn't think about my work and had a wonderful, restorative weekend. I took my time getting back to my work in order to extend that feeling, spending Monday night with BSP doing nothing and enjoying it - and though I feel a bit anxious about the hours I missed (normally in that four day period I would have put in 20-30 hours in the studio); I don't feel resentful or regretful of those lost hours.
Although I am passionately driven to work, to produce, to get better, to create; art is like any other job – and as I lie on my deathbed, will I regret the hours not spent in the studio or the hours I didn't spend with the ones I love?
As I type that question, I can honestly say I don't know what the answer is!  I know what it's supposed to be, but I'm not there yet. 
I need to find my way there – my work should be driven by passion; and as I said on Mark Lipiniki's show, making art should be, and is an imperative.  Though popular belief would have that artists are supposed to "suffer" for their work; my loved ones shouldn't.  And I shouldn't be "sad" as I work, mourning what I'll never make, but rather finding the joy in what I will make. 
Does anyone else struggle with this? And if so, how do you handle it?

Kit 120

Asking the question of my friends at The Needle and Thread Network too.  Check 'em out!

14 comments:

M-R Charbonneau said...

I feel EXACTLY like you do, Kit! It's amazing how much your words resonate with me. I suspect if I made the same admission to the hubster, he'd also say that he already knows. I'm not in the mourning stage yet, but I have to figure out how to get rid of the resentment because I do love my family and friends and I don't want them to ever feel like they are less important than a quilt. You said you 'conquered' it. How?

Deborah OHare said...

My battle is with my own procrastination and the hours I waste. The 'death bed ' remark has really got me thinking!!

Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

You make a piece so interesting Kit.

Crystal said...

Oh Kit! I know exactly how you feel! I'm always saying: "but Ian, I've worked so very hard all week and I want to sew ALL day on Sat/Sun because I haven't gotten to sew ALL week". I feel like I deserve it, NEED it! And then I feel like a tremendous jerk because I haven't spent any time with him ALL week either and I never have the "I NEED to hang out with Ian" feeling. How horrible am I?

Only…creating things, working on projects, making art…it feels like the very first time I fell in love. Like, can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t think of anything else kind of love. We’re in love with our art, with the way it makes us feel. We do crazy things for love (hello...cutting out eleven billion tiny fabric feathers???) and we can’t fight it…and don’t want to. We resent the people and things that take us away from our love like work or other relationships. It seems jerky but it can’t be helped.

We are in love with our spouses but, at least for me, it’s not the same thing. If I was “can’t eat, can’t sleep” in love with Ian, then HE'D be my focus, the thing I couldn't get enough of...and then I wouldn't have any time or desire to create art. It was certainly that way when we first met. Then there was a time when I was equally passionate about both…and I’d spend my time with Ian wishing I was home in the studio and I spent my time in the studio wishing I was with Ian. Those were really hard years. And now after so many years, things between us are calm, domestic, comfortable…and I’ve fallen head over heels in love with my art again. I’m happy, he’s not…that’s what happens when your partner loves another. I can’t blame him!

If I had to choose between Ian and art, I’d probably choose Ian because I care about him and that’s what we’re all “supposed” to do. But the things about me that he loves, my fire, passion, creativity would all be gone and I wouldn’t be the same person. I want people in my life to know that my passion is just part of who I am...and love me for it even if it means I don't have as much time to spend with them. I would want the same for them…it’s their one short life and only they can decide what will fulfill them in the end. Given the immense world of things to experience, I feel honored by (not entitled to) even the tiniest moment a person chooses to give me from their ever-depleting hourglass.

Linda Kittmer said...

Wow Kit! yet another thing we have in common. It's easier now that my son's out of the house, and I have to say times like now when my husband's up at the cottage for a few days I can be in my studio all day without even having to think about meals. But yes, it is a struggle between spending time doing what you sometimes 'think' you should and what you really want to do! But as you say, it's interesting to know what the 'politically correct' answer should be to the death bed question, but is that truly the answer?

Living to work - working to live said...

Kit this a very interesting post.

I also work full time. It is full on and has been a bit of a roll coaster over the last few years what with restructures and being sold! Add to that the complication that I don't spend much time at home but have a 'home from home' closer to work - a rented house that I share with a variety of 'guests' who work for or are sub contracted to the company. When they are around then I play host and the working day is extended.

So time to make art is absolutely limited and sometimes I feel that I am just grabbing at opportunities where I can. But I don't feel in mourning for the work not made - just a sense of frustration that sometimes I wish I could get by on less sleep. And a gnawing feeling that I am not fulfilling my purpose.

Living to work - working to live said...

I am having a few technical issues tonight so this response is likely to be in instalments!

I don't mourn work not made or indeed work that will never be made and I don't feel as though family and dfriends are being neglected. But I do feel as though I am spinning plates sometimes and I also get frustrated that part of me may be unfulfilled. I don't want to be on my deathbed feeling unfulfilled or regretting what I should have done, but feel resigned , for now at least, that I a, doing the best I can and that all the plates are still up there.

I do feel envious sometimes of people's success and that some seem to need less sleep or have husbands/partners earning enough to allow them to work on their art. But I am no driven quite in the way you describe. And that envy is short lived, rapidly followed by joy in their success. Which makes me sound like a saint - I'm not!!!

So, I guess that right from the start if my creative journey I always knew it would be that juggling act

Threadpainter said...

I sometimes wish that I didn't have 'other' (tho' some are art related) things to do, old friends to see and celebrate with, grandkids to visit and marvel at, ill daughters to make tea for and comfort, etc.etc. .... nahhh ... I need to do these things, too ! ... it is who I am.
My art doesn't drive me, it enhances me.
But ... there is a big part of me who fantasizes about locked doors, hide aways, no phones and stacks of bins full of everything I need to play.
Not sure I answered your question, Kit.

Living to work - working to live said...

.... And have been able to accept the fact that I don't always hit those quilting deadlines.

Golly - sorry about the freezing screen problem ! What a pain for you and all readers. I hope this rather disjointed response makes sense.

Sam said...

You nailed it Kit. I don't think there really is a way to 'conquer it'. I have a real passion for the outdoors (canoeing in particular), I think that sharing that passion is a way to focus on the family. So my advice would be to find another passion to share.

quilthexle said...

Autsch - reading your post hurts. A lot ... because I can so relate! It does not matter at which part of my life I look, I'm never enough ... because honestly, I would really prefer to be in the studio and create ! A collegue of mine once said to me, how lucky I am to be creative ... I looked at him and answered: it is a curse often enough!
It is a relieve to learn that others out there feel the same.
But still - I'm so tired of being tired. Of feeling bad because I don't spend "enough" time with people I love. Of feeling sorry for myself because I rush through things to get back to my art work !
hmmm ... sorry I don't have an answer for you, I can only say - you're not alone. Maybe that struggle is indeed part of the process of growing as an artist? Maybe we have to become absorbed by our art, realize it would consume us completely - and set boundaries? By our own definitions? When I decide to sew Quilt A, it might mean Quilt B never gets done. But while working on A, something might turn up that's much better than B? And accepting this and going with this flow - maybe that's the lesson we have to learn?
Thanks for posting this, Kit - once again, you got me thinking ...

Margaret said...

I know exactly whereof you speak. I am beginning my art journey at 60. In the nature of things, my eyes and hands will not likely last me till 80...unless I am very blessed. So...what do we do? We treasure each day, do what we can, and seek balance. It's about choices. With balance, you may end up with more time, as you won't wear yourself out.

Live, laugh, love, learn, stitch!

cauchy09 said...

Every day I think about this. So many ideas brew in my head about what I want to accomplish at RealJob (it pays the bills) and while I'm there I get anxious about all I want to do to express myself in RealLife. And, goodness, why is my life so fragmented? Why isn't there more time to be whole?

I've cut out some online time, cut back on sleep, and filled every moment with doing, but it feels good to slow down for a minute, be silent, and contemplate what's important. Let me know when you find the answers...!

Monika Kinner-Whalen (MySweetPrairie) said...

; ) I just spent a week in another province, and coming home, I found my withdrawal for my craft was just as strong as my feelings of missing my family. Okay - maaaaaaybe moreso. lol I guess we got it bad huh? Thankfully now that it's a 'job' I have, they support my time at it. When my family viewed my work as a 'hobby', they complained about how messy the house was. lol

; )
~Monika

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