'What is this life, if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare'
I'm sure you're familiar with this quote; I know I am. It was a feature of my childhood; my grandmother quoted it regularly. However, until today, I had never seen it written down. I thought the 'full of care' in the first line related to 'life', that our lives are full of care, and as a result, we're always busy, and don't take the time to look at things. Now, though, I interpret it differently; that lovely comma after the if suggests that it is we, ourselves, who are full of care. What's the difference? I hear you holler. Well... rather a lot, I think, when it comes down to it.
Our lives are possibly full of 'care', demands on our time, on our energy, on our intellect. If, however, we fill our selves, our heads and hearts, with cares, thinking about them endlessly, worrying about them, rehearsing different scenarios for resolving them, or just feeling sorry for ourselves, then in truth, it doesn't matter whether we stand and stare, or not: if we do, we won't actually see anything.
To be creative, we need to be in the moment. To be in the moment means actually paying attention to what is going on right now, the sounds, scents, sights that surround us. Making ourselves focus on what is in front of us...and nothing else. As I write, I can see out of the window to the garden. I've just spent a few minutes looking out at the trees, especially the oak at the end of the garden. It is a magnificent tree, and its leaves are just beginning to turn into their autumn colours. Being in the moment is about watching the faint breeze stir the leaves, admiring the sky as it peeps through the foliage... it does not, however embrace thinking that I really must go and rake up the falling leaves, and the bit of branch that got blown off in the last storm... Make room in your head for creativity. It's a practice, just like turning up and making the work is a practice. When you find you're thinking unrelated thoughts, kick them out of your head, and allow yourself to see what is really there...instead of worrying about it.
Perhaps the best way of being in the moment, for me, is to draw something. Then, there is only room for me to look at a leaf, explore it with my senses, and put that information down on paper. It doesn't really matter what the end result looks like; the important thing is really the looking, and the seeing, and the engagement with the leaf. Try it.