Monday, June 25, 2012

Resting in the between.

I’m resting today. It’s an important day for me. And it ought to be an important day for all of us, but our culture does not recognize the importance of this kind of day.

Every life phase, creative project, study program has a beginning, middle and end. As a culture, we acknowledge these phases very well. Beginnings, like a new school year, come with freshly sharpened pencils, new clothes and backpacks. Middles are marked more by the process or progress being made. You’re in the middle of something or some part of your life and things are moving along. Endings are big celebrations with diplomas, cakes, parties, photographs, exhibits or publications of finished works.

Our culture, like many of our favorite movies, likes to end at endings, where everything is nicely packaged up whether happy or sad. It’s over. The characters or plot forever to be remembered in this nicely tucked up stage, signed, sealed and delivered.

But life isn’t like that and that’s a good thing. Life is a cycle, a circle, a wheel forever revolving and evolving from beginnings to endings and back again.

But there is still more. It’s a big piece of life that’s missing here. This phase doesn’t get any acknowledgement in our culture and it’s just as important, even crucial to our lives and creative work.

The Between. What, you may wonder, is it?

The between is a phase in your life, creative process or work progress that comes after the ending and before the beginning. It is the day after the graduation party, promotional announcement, book or article publication, art exhibition, studio or garden tour closes. It’s the quiet. The empty, open space that feels calm and reflective. It is the phase of germination. Where the quiet, openness of air and the light, warmth of sun can clear, freshen and recharge your mind, heart and soul. It is the between. It’s a sacred space. It is the place where you can and need to rest.

The question is: Can you let yourself?

If you can’t, and buy into our cultural fear of this ‘between’ phase, you can get very anxious. You might act this out physically by cleaning or packing or buying or eating or running. Or you might turn this inside yourself by swinging through your monkey mind from trees of regrets to anger to sadness and back to fears.

I’ve been to all these places and I can tell you that it doesn’t really help. Trying to vault from endings to beginnings too fast doesn’t out run your fears. Starting a new project at the end of an ending usually makes for a bumpy road. The between happens anyway, whether you want to acknowledge it or not.

Today, I am in the between.

One art exhibit has ended. My newest ceramic pieces are sculpted, fired, glazed, and photographed. My mixed media piece is wrapped and ready to go to next month’s show. My vases, mugs and bowls sit waiting for the pottery sale. My studio is clean. There are empty shelves. There is new clay in the garage next to my wheel.

But, right now, I am between. And I am resting.


Kirk deFord said...

Beautifully stated. I know the "in between" and have learned to cherish it. It IS the rhythm of active thinking, living, and creating. Thanks!

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Mike Turner said...

Learning to cherish it, has taken me a while. But as you know it is a key to living a creative life!

Patrick Gracewood said...

I love this post Susan. So true and yet so difficult for me to practice. I'm trying "On Site" work by going into the garden and finding quiet places to lie down for 30 minutes. No book, just looking up at the sky and birds and trees, and noticing the radio noise of my mind.

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Mike Turner said...

I'm so glad you are using your garden for...the between...what a great place to rest especially under that amazing sequoia tree!

I see so many new things when I stop trying and let myself just rest. Its amazing, isn't it how hard it is to let yourself rest.

Thanks, Patrick!