Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thoughts on Procrastinating

"Even with the best of intentions, inspiration still sometimes strikes at the most inopportune moments.  It's impossible to always drop everything and act on it.  I picture a great warehouse out in the cosmos full of great work that was never realized because the spark was not acted upon.  It makes me a little sad to think that those "lost" great works are denied from this world forever."

This quote is from Clint Watson of, in a blog post titled "Why Great Artists Should Procrastinate".  I am in awe of his articulation of the feeling of the muse, the creating, and the expectations of  the world.  I should be getting some sleep, but this comment inspired me!  I found it while reading art blogs instead of doing art!
I am reminded of things I've read about Michelangelo describing his art: "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it...I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."  Think of this great artist working 500 years ago...and all the other artists--and writers over the centuries, who have struggled with following the inspiration or doing the stuff that needs to be done for living... hauling water from the well, finding and growing food, washing out cloth diapers, which had to be spun and woven to start with....  (Maybe those chores of living before modern conveniences explains some of why there are so few women artists known before the last century!)  Anyway...that is a lot of "lost great works" out there in what must be a huge explanation for the Milky Way?

Clint's entry mentions an essay by Paul Graham on procrastination, where he says, "impressive people I know are all procrastinators...they put off working on small stuff to work on big stuff...small stuff is work that has zero chance of being mentioned in your obituary.

My bills aren't paid, the class I'm teaching is not prepared, the county fair takes off in full force in the morning, the laundry is piling up, I forgot to think about supper tonight while I researched ways to save on communication expenses, and all I want to do is paint! For now, I am satisfied with procrastinating on sleep for the creativity of just writing this blog.  I can't procrastinate the fair in order to paint...we have two really big sheep, and an even bigger boy to prepare for tomorrow's show! So sometimes the difference in small stuff and big stuff has to be the timing of things beyond one's control. 

Paul Graham thinks, "the way to 'solve' the problem of procrastination is to let delight pull you instead of making a to-do list push you. Work on an ambitious project you really enjoy, and sail as close to the wind as you can, and you'll leave the right things undone."

Our youngest graduates from high school this year...soon we won't have as many activities, allowing me to open up some space in the cosmic warehouse!   Meanwhile, my current (and very long-term) ambitious project is being a great mother.  When I let the delight of that calling pull me, I can leave some painting undone and still end up with a decent obituary.  Thank you, Clint, for the thoughts.

1 comment:

Kim said...

I totally agree that being a mom trumps everything and really never ends. Enjoy his senior year. The empty nest takes some adjustment. But it also offers some opportunities - like painting for you, writing and photography for me. I truly think we can find joy in every season of life.