I am writing this days before we depart and life is a flurry as we pack up and grocery shop and do the million and one mundane tasks that must be dealt with before hitting the road.
We’re taking two weeks between locations to head off grid, to simply be together in the quiet with minimal interruption from technology or obligation. We have plans to laze about languidly in the hammock under enormous trees, to read books we’ve meant to get to, to daydream about our future, to write and play and eat and nap.
It has taken us more than a year on the road to finally let it sink in that moving slowly is a far better approach than trying to squeeze in every beautiful place along the way. That spending no fewer than two nights in a place is a rule worth sticking to, and to make an effort to stay even longer if we can. When we move more quickly, the inspiration I generally feel when we embark quickly fades to exhaustion as there is little time or space for my introverted soul to sit quietly and allow our experiences to soak in a bit…I require some daily quiet to function as my best self.
As we mapped out this route, we built more downtime into our plans, longer periods at each stop and small structures meant to slow us down. We committed to cooking a real breakfast each day and to carving out time for daily meditation together. We each said aloud the things we feel offer us true restfulness and we promised to support each other in getting what we need to arrive in our next location as vessels re-filled.
I also had a good long talk with myself about my expectations for my creative work during this time. I have finally learned to be a bit more honest, I think, about how my creative process works. I am finally able to say without shame that I don’t create well without calm focus and that that calm focus is extremely difficult to find during periods of big transition. For a long time I believed this was a character flaw, a shortcoming in who I am, that I lacked flexibility or adaptability. But it’s really not that dramatic. I just don’t work very well on the move.
When I stepped back, I realized that while these periods of transition are terrible for my ability to create a finished product, they are a gold mine of raw material. Ahhh…that “doh” moment when you have a revelation that is really, really obvious in retrospect.
It feels impossible to marry the image of rocking in a hammock with a book or a long afternoon nap by a creek with creating a finished product because they are, at their heart, antithetical. The entire reason for this time of rest is to…ummm…rest. Which makes it also a perfect time to play. To try techniques with my camera that I’ve been meaning to test out without worry over whether the shots will be usable. To jot down passing thoughts and ideas that may or may not ever turn into anything. To indulge in conversations that include wild fantasies about “someday” that help me see into what I really want and feel in my life. To let go of expectations of finished products and allow tons and tons of space for the creative fodder that I will mold later, when my days once again take on some structure and I can once again access the calm focus of getting down to work.
It seems as though I have to relearn the lesson of the importance of rest- physical rest and creative rest and every other kind of rest- over and over and over again. But I don’t mind, so long as each time the message sinks a little deeper. Because it is critical- absolutely and utterly critical- that we really get this if we are to have any hope of reaching the vast potential we carry within us.
Creative fodder is a product of rest. It is a product of change. Of openness and transition and space.
So whether the “product” we are seeking to create in the long run is a book or a piece of art or a better relationship with our spouse or our children or ourselves, we can only hammer away at it with our heads down for so long before we really must come up for air, lift our eyes and take a breath and see where we are, see what is around us. Often the view revealed when we take a step back, when we give it all a bit of space and release our death grip on the final outcome, offers us precisely the raw materials we were in need of and didn’t even know it.
So rest we will. Dream we will. And we’ll see what rough gems are uncovered, what tiny flakes of gold show up in the panning. And, you know…naps.
I’ve been dying to share some images from my birthday trip to Joshua Tree back in March! It was another long weekend of deep rest and I came home fired up and full of ideas and inspiration. The perfect way to welcome 40 and ease into my next decade...