“The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation…”
Do you collect quotes? I do – a lot. The quote above, by Teacher, Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, is one I go back to frequently.
Being “off-center” or “in-between” can be a pretty uncomfortable state to find oneself in. Those descriptors certainly reflect how I feel, right now, with all that is going on. However, when it comes to my work, this quote pretty well sums up my approach. To me, it says there are no absolutes – I’m free to explore, disregard, relearn, be proven wrong, or entertain a new idea at anytime during the creative process. And I like it like that.
Off-center and in-between can sometimes bring thoughts of being in limbo. I tend to think of it, in this instance, of that pause in which possibilities make themselves known. When I read the quote I envision a kind of mental dancing on my toes like a tennis player, of which I am not, but nonetheless having the same watchfulness and readiness to move in whatever direction the “ball” dictates. Sometimes the direction comes as a surprise, or with a twist that I hadn’t anticipated. I look forward to that in a work in progress, it’s what keeps my mind from falling into a repetitive pattern; it keeps things fresh.
This kind of of openness allows for surprises and serendipitous moments. It is where I can solve a problem or surmount a challenge by thinking outside the box. I often find a new use for old materials or tools, when I am watchful and ready. Of course, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all those possibilities. And so, I remind myself to balance it with this observation from artist Richard Diebenkorn:
“My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful, the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles.”
I take that to mean: weed out distractions, cut to the chase (narrow my focus) and then work it from every direction I can think of. It’s good advice in the studio and, probably, for Life in general.
What is your ideal situation?
Thanks for reading!