I have a strong creative urge – rarely matched by any creative talents it has to be said – but I love to plan and see through a project. Or at least, I do when I am in good mental health. When the Black Dog pops in all the creative urges run out. I have the urge to escape and survive but to devote my attention to making something – especially something that won’t be perfect and probably isn’t all that important – runs completely at odds with that. My brain has switched into constant red alert mode and the last thing on my mind is getting totally absorbed in doing one, non-urgent thing. Any project seems insurmountable to me at the moment, doomed to failure and not worth trying. And besides – I am struggling to stay on top of the tasks I should be doing, never mind finding time for ones that are just for fun.
So to remind my mind that we are not actually in any danger, there is nothing so urgent that it cannot be put off for a few hours and that the real me is a creator not a destroyer, my little task for today was simply to spend time making something. I set a whole afternoon aside on the understanding that it was the length of time spent in creative activity that was the measure of success, not whether or not the thing got finished in that time. I chose to start on covers for our sofa cushions and just got on with it. It was not a complicated task – which is good because I am not up to complicated yet – and was an easy one to put down and pick up again so it didn’t matter how often my toddler interrupted.
How happy did it make me? Well, pretty happy actually – not jumping with joy but calm and contented while I was doing it and afterwards with a sense of achievement and of having done something to improve the current chaos in our home at least a little. The thing that struck me most was that only doing one thing all afternoon and not mentally running over all the jobs I need to get done RIGHT NOW as well as planning everything I have to do for the rest of the day was very restful. It makes me realise that it’s not the size of the tasks I have to do each day, it’s the quantity that exhausts me. Although I had concentrated for hours on the cushion covers this afternoon I didn’t feel as tired by the time I hit the kitchen to cook dinner as I usually do at this time. And every time I walked past my two new cushions this evening I got another little hit of pleasure.
Making something will definitely be a regular dog-walking-activity for me now.