What do you do when you don’t know where you’re going next?
I’ve been thinking about the legendary Bay Area artist David Ireland and how he would make his wonderful Dumb Balls when he couldn’t think of anything else to do in his studio. He would toss the wet concrete back and forth in his gloved covered hands for hours until a spherical object would form in his palm.
Through this repeated action the concrete object would manifest a physical shape of an internal world – worry, anxiety, excitement or simply just being present in the moment (these are all my guesses, btw, or maybe better described as my projected emotions on a beloved deceased artist).
I like thinking about Ireland’s Dumb Balls because they are objects made consciously from the place of not knowing. They give shape to the uncertainty of what’s ahead, perhaps allowing the mind to pay closer attention to what is here right now.
It is wonderful to think of the accumulation of Dumb Balls made during his life. For me they signify the patience, time and vision that occupy a life of creative work.
A creative mind is a relaxed mind. This was the inspirational text printed on my friend’s tea bag recently.
I’ve been trying to pay attention to what I do during the time between projects. There are things that I do that are more about dancing around my anxiety of the unknown: I sweep the kitchen floor. I sleep more. I reach out to friends. I read.
But I’m also experimenting with consciously documenting this time – as a way to alleviate my mind from the anxiety of the unknown but also to be open to what’s in front of me now. I’ve been making line drawings and using this process as a form of meditation, where each line represents a question or thought I repeat over and over until the page is full.
I’ve given myself permission not to judge them (and I feel a little funny about putting them out here for you to see at this point, but what the heck, it’s just the internet, right?). I’m enjoying the process of making something with my hands and connecting a gesture with an internal state. And for now that’s all they have to be.
I’m curious: what you do in your time in between things? Are there projects, gestures, activities etc you do to allow your mind to be present and open to the next thing?