Thursday, November 6, 2014

Contentment and discontentment and a finished drawing

With my littlest kids getting kind of big--seven and almost five, I take a lot more showers than I did for awhile. I always felt on call, always felt like someone was going to need me any minute, so taking a slow shower when I didn't really really "need" one, just to gently refresh myself, contemplate life and design things in the steam on the door didn't happen much. I was taking that kind of shower a few days ago, when my seven-year-old boy yelled outside the bathroom door "Mama, does disc----" He paused. I thought he was going to say something about a DVD, but he went on "--contentment cause trouble?"

"Yes." I said. I was surprised and amused, proud of my insightful little boy.

"Yesssss!!!!" he shouted and pounded back to the kitchen.

I was no longer so proud.  I realized he was probably using my "yes" to bolster his side of an argument with his feisty little sister. He had probably been lecturing her and meeting resistance.  I finished up quickly, expecting yelling and accusations to invade my sanctuary, but it didn't happen. They were painting watercolors, and I suppose they were enjoying their work enough to drop the argument.

Here's a picture of the contented pair that Lucy took last month. 

I've been thinking some about contentment since then. "Godliness with contentment is great gain," said St. Paul, and "In every situation I have learned how to be content." Yet, ungodliness with contentment is not gain, and neither is the lazy acceptance of bad stuff you can make better. One thing I am not content with is my energy level, which is affected by sensitivities to all the pretty smelling stuff people use to get clean and beautiful. Careful eating has made a big difference, but I spend a lot of time cooking, and I don't have much of an energy margin. Going to a party with lots of clean and shiny people or making a big grocery shopping trip takes a toll on my energy, which cuts right into my art time which makes me sad. I once overheard my four year old singing a little jingle she made up: "She was mad and sad because her aeroplane was running out of gas." My little creativity aeroplane often sits wistfully in the runway, while I sadly watch all the gas going into the cooking-healthy-all-from-scratch-meals-for-picky-people-with-special-dietary-needs and going-to-the-grocery-store jumbo-jet. And I'm not really content with that if I can do anything about it.

This week one solution has been to do art in the morning before kids are up. Instead of jumping quickly into housekeeping stuff to get it over with but wearing out early in the day, I wake up more slowly and take advantage of that dreamy, nighttime kind of intelligence before it dissipates in the morning light. I am excited about how well this schedule is working for me and have high hopes for increased artistic productivity.

I was able to finish this piece in a few days. I still want to do an all new design on bigger paper with powerful rolling waves that feel like much more than a border and (maybe) trees that curve into each other's space, but I'm glad I didn't just drop this version. Though I'm not in love with it, I learned and got good ideas from going on. Maybe some day I'll like it or have more ideas to improve it. Thank you Margaret, Janice and Linda for encouraging me to finish in your comments on my last post.

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