My favourite thing about painting, besides painting (duh!), is that it demands me to be present. I know a lot of artists, myself included, who refer to their work as a practice. More so because of the sense of ritual it creates and less focus is placed on “if I paint today, I will improve, and if I don't then there are people getting better than me”. Perhaps after my years on the basketball court, everything I do on a daily basis is considered practice, only I’m not competing against anyone but myself now because comparing my practice to anyone else's in a pointless exercise. My beautiful ritual of creating arises from the habit of applying layers of acrylic each day and doing it everyday, whenever I can, even if I’m physically incapable. If I’m stuck in bed with an injury, then I’ll draw or colour or take some weird pictures of my surroundings or plot out my dreams, but just knowing that I can create something new each day is essential to me remaining faithful to my practice.
In the past month I've discovered the power of being injured. Injuries are a great way of forcing us to be present (and grateful for our health when we have it). I needed to spin something positive out of my herniated disc because being confined to a limited space and being so dependent on others can take a toll on your psyche. So in a way it has pushed me to be even more present, not just in painting but in my day to day life. When you’re focused on the act of healing, looking to plans that are past the span of a 24 hour period is not essential. I’m in each minute and I can feel my back slowly healing while I chip away at art projects that aren’t too physically demanding.
Being present is hard. There is no denying it. But it’s better than making yourself miserable longing for something so far away. It's a very impractical use of time, right? It’s time to be present in our journey instead of looking to the milestones. We’ll get there eventually, but let’s get through today first and enjoy every minute of it.
Whatever your rituals are, practice being present. Be in the moment 100%, soak up the glory of your journey, be grateful, and don't think ahead too much (at least this is what I like to do!). Stress levels rise the second I have to think too far ahead, so I'm just going to stand here and paint.
What are you going to do to be present today?
P.S. Take care of your backs!