Today will be an artist retreat day.
I don’t have to work so I can spend the day nourishing my creative soul. My plan is to respond to writing prompts, go outside and take pictures, go for a walk in woods, and sit in silent mediation. Today will be a retreat day, a day where I can relax and rejuvenate.
But before I can get started I should really clean the house. Then it will be time for my artist retreat.
Actually, since I have the time I should make lunches for the week. I think I will roast a bunch of potatoes. Then what should I have for dinner? After I figure that out, I will start my retreat.
I do need to check work email. I am waiting for a couple of important messages. Then I should confirm some meetings for Wednesday and Thursday. Then I will start my retreat.
I need to run to the grocery store, I am out of cereal and milk. I also need to go to the bank. After those errands, I will start my retreat.
I really want to get at least 3 miles of running in today. It is going to be about 40 degrees today and I want to start getting in some outdoor mileage. Race season is just around the corner. Maybe after that I will start my retreat day.
Speaking of running, I really need to order some new shorts and running shirts. After I do that I will start my retreat.
I would feel bad if I am going to home all day and I neglected the dogs. I should really spend time with them. And since I am going to be outside with the dogs, I should get a little spring cleaning done. I need to remove that those branches that came down in the last storm.
I forgot about picking up the mail and dropping off the taxes. I definitely need to do that. But after that I will start my artist retreat day.
Hmm, I wonder how much time that leaves me for my artist retreat activities? Doesn’t look like much.
Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone else?
I have noticed that I have this uncanny ability of putting obstacles in my way towards creative growth. I construct all these reasons why I can’t focus on myself. Julia Cameron in her book The Artists Way talks about how this type of behavior is an example of limiting and blocking an individual’s creative spirit probably due to some sort of past event where the creative spark was hampered by those of authority. Cameron would probably also tell me that I am the perfect example of someone who is caught in their own Virtue Trap. Cameron explains by saying, “We are on the treadmill of virtuous production and we are caught.” (p. 96)
Many of us have made a virtue our of deprivation. We have embraced a long-suffering artistic anorexia as a martyr’s cross. We have used it to feed a false sense of spirituality grounded in being good, meaning superior.
I call this seductive, faux spirituality the Virtue Trap. Spirituality has often been misused as a route to an unloving solitude, a stance where we proclaim ourselves above our human nature. This spiritual superiority is really only one more form of denial. For an artist, virtue can be deadly. The urge toward respectability and maturity can be stultifying, even fatal. (Cameron, p. 98)
The problem with this approach to life is that we lose our true self through the constant desire to serve others. Our true self withers as it is replaced by the to-do lists and the obligations. I order to keep in touch with our inner passions and potentials, we need to take time to retreat. We need to take time for the “Self”. It is important to take time to nurture those creative impulses so we can embrace opportunities for growth when they happen.
The challenge, at least for me, is to increase the level of importance these types of activities. If I want to say “I am a writer”, I need to find the time to be a writer. I need to be able to retreat and write.
Cameron, J. (2016). The Artist Way. New York. Penguin Random House, LLC.