Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Doing nothing -- and don't knock happiness

The Cake House (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
14 x  18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(*Note:  I wrote the blog earlier today, then came
upon this image and wanted to paint it.  We were
walking in our park and I noticed that a house seemed
to have sprung up over night.  It's a big house, and in
real life has a kind of construction fence around it.  But
with snow decorating it, it looks like a big cake.  So here's
the connection.  I'm not a very symbolic painter, but
let the cake be for International Women's Day.  Let the house
represent shelter and safety for all people, let its luxurious
size represent peace and bounty for all people.  That's a lot
to put on this one little painting.  So in the end let's just let
it be a cake house.  We'll see what happens.)

Today is the first day since maybe  November when I have
actually got nothing scheduled.  And I am probably wrong.
But it feels true right now.  I woke up and thought, "I
have no appointments (that I know of).  I have nothing to do!"
I felt incredibly jubilant and went to get a coffee.  Of course
the list of what I really have to do is interminable, but I gave
myself a mental break.

Reading the paper there's an interview with a woman knocking
the current desire to stay young when in fact you're not.  She
is slamming the whole concept of staying fit and eating right
as an aid to growing old gracefully.  Okay.  As a writer I know
that this is a writer's trick.  You can research and find evidence
to back up any theory. And a book going against a trend is always
going to provoke controversy.  But I prefer the anecdotal.  The people
I know, including close relatives, who have followed the stay
fit and eat well formula are living fairly great, vigorous older lives.

I'll add one though -- staying happy.  Another journalist did
a book about how bogus the positive thinking idea was.

Is it?  I don't think so.  I think happiness is one of the important
goals in life. So I believe if we do our best to stay fit and to stay happy
we may have a shot at enjoying life now, and when we're older.
I have had hardship in my life.  I had a near fatal illness 10 years ago.
Very close family members have been ill.  Both friends and family have died.
But I think happiness after grief has diminished is both a choice, and
a job.  Take today.  My desk is piled with papers.  My iCal has sent
me five messages, my mail inbox needs attention, I have painting
work to do.  But what's at the core of this activity and this life?
Me.  If I don't take care of me, I will be...not.  So every now and
then I tell myself a slightly distorted story, and say I have nothing
to do.

Am I crazy?  No I am probably one of the sanest people you know.  And
for the next half hour I'm sticking to my story and reading my book.
Then I'll contradict myself, make my list and get on with it.

But for now.  Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Have a doing-absolutely-nothing day.
P.S. Happy International Women's Day.  Thanks to all the women
who are showing in the International Women Celebrate show that
has its gala opening today.  More than one of the women in the
show painted a work about taking time to relax.  I am following
their cues.


Laurel Daniel said...

oh, I hope you had an enjoyable rest... so important to enjoy it while you can... that old iCal will fill up again for you know it. :) XOXO

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Laurel,

I did indeed. Thank you. That old iCal is always full. It's where I put my tasks and appointments. But that just means I'm lucky. Right?


Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!