Thursday 4 February 2021

The question of "When?"

It's impossible to exist these days without being acutely aware of the struggles people are experiencing as they cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people appear to be preoccupied with "when" questions: when can they travel, when can they plan vacations, when can they attend events, when can they gather together, when... when... when? We are told there are no clear answers to these questions - not yet, at least.

Artists tend to be solitary sorts of people and true-to-form I have found that staying home hasn't been terribly difficult for me. I can remember when my calendar was always action-packed and every moment of my time accounted for. Now each page is mostly blank. I find I don't really mind. When life eventually resumes a more lively pace, I'll be rested, refreshed and ready for action!

While I sorely miss my friends/family, for the most part I'm reasonably content. That's not to say I don't have the occasional bouts of frustration. However, my mandate is 1) I don't want to get sick, and 2) I abhor the thought of spreading the disease, particularly to someone more vulnerable than I. I'm also not a conspiracy theorist. I observe the numbers of deaths rising world-wide. I trust in science and in the people who have the education and expertise to lead us through these challenging times as safely as possible, imperfect as that leadership may sometimes be. And given the seriousness of the situation - the illness, the loss of life - I feel that the very least I can do is to do my part, and do my best to do it with good grace. When I'm able to see and hug my family/friends, to share a meal with them, to celebate an occasion together, I'll be all-the-more grateful.

My personal survival strategy for these days, weeks and months of mostly-solitary time is this:

  • Get outdoors. Spend time outside each day and go for long walks as often as possible. Breathe the air, observe the birds, and enjoy the physical experience of walking. 

  • Eat well. Prepare fresh, nourishing meals (and limit wine intake to a prudent level).

  • Talk and laugh. Keep in contact with friends and family via whatever electronic means work best. Communicate with at least one human every day and share laughter whenever possible.

  • Pat the dog and the cat. Show appreciation for the four-legged sidekicks and make the most of their constant companionship.

Lily's "when" question is "When will Hugo get out of my bed?!"

I top up these habits with a bit of blessing-counting. Each day I find it's not too difficult to be thankful for some small thing, or sometimes for many. I'm focussed on keeping the glass half-full rather than dwelling on what's missing. 

When the world regains its equilibrium, I hope to carry forward some of these habits.

Not surprising, given my line of work, I'm also committed to doing creative things:

  • Working in my studio. Right now I have a couple of dog portraits on the go and a lengthy list of upcoming projects. 

  • Exploring a new art form. I'm fulfilling my interest in sculptural work by learning about needle felting. Because of my experience with silk painting, it feels natural to experiment with another fibre-based medium. I have a ways to go before I'll feel fluent enough to tackle a significant project but for now I'm having fun fooling around making little birds.



  • Building something. I have ambitions to expand my pandemic-inspired vegetable garden that materialized last spring. My enthusiasm is blossoming as I observe daffodils emerging from the earth, garlic sprouts shooting bravely upwards, and self-seeded cilantro making an appearance. I'm also inspired by the fact that I'm still eating home-grown veggies from my freezer and from my kale patch that has continued producing all through the winter. Soon I hope to be building more beds and erecting additional deer-proof fencing. Recently, when tidying my shed, I discovered an ample supply of hammers inherited from various sources - enough for any carpentry project I could wish to take on (not to mention enough to outfit an army of carpenters should the need ever arise).

I understand each person's circumstances are different and that I'm fortunate to live in a place I love with ample room to roam outdoors. When it's possible to travel once again, I'm confident that I'll always return to this place and be glad to come home. 

I've consciously made an effort to practice living in the moment, given planning ahead these days often ends in disappointment. Living in the moment has got to be one of the most difficult things for humans to do because we tend to constantly project into the future. It's not that I don't have dreams for what's to come but I'm keeping timelines intentionally fuzzy for now. When I'm able to resume making concrete plans I'm confident I'll still remember how. 

As I write this a hummingbird is visiting the feeder outside my window, I can see juncos, sparrows and towhees pecking at seed I scattered this morning, the sun is peeking through the trees, Lily is snoozing in her bed in preparation for our walk, and Hugo is, in the way of cats, somewhere of his own choosing. Across the driveway my studio beckons. Today is much like yesterday, and tomorrow will be much the same. When times change, I suspect I'll remember these days with fondness.

What I wish for everyone during this unusual moment in history is, first and foremost, safety and good health but also that they are able to adopt coping strategies that work for them - strategies infused with grace, caring and thoughtfulness, spiced by dash of optimism and perhaps a pinch of creativity. 

Ultimately, I believe the answer to to the question of "when" can be found in the way we navigate "now". 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Debra, I really enjoyed reading your blog. This life has changed in many ways for all of us. As an Artist you’ve managed to re-route and adapt. I love your NEEDLE FELT ART! Your Island home sounds so peaceful. We can’t plan trips but we can plan a garden! Yes, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow “ Thanks for sharing your life with us! ❤️❤️❤️