Friday, May 4, 2007
IN PRAISE OF PROCESS
Back in the 60s, I read the humanist psychologists. Seems they all talked about one kind of process or another. The process of learning, the process of rebelling, the process of creating, the process of loving. I read Abraham Maslow, Karl Rogers, Alan Watts, Rollo May, to name a few. There were so many, I can't remember them. No matter what their particular slant, the emphasis in those years seemed to be on either "Being" or "Becoming." At the tender age of 19 or 20, I knew I was nowhere near the mark. All the concepts made sense, but it was intellectual sense, not the kind that resonates deep inside.
Now, many decades later, I look back in awe at how much "Becoming" I missed. Living in the suburbs, raising a child and participating in all the cooperative functions that mostly mothers ran, even while they juggled jobs, homemaking and child-rearing, had its satisfactions. But my creativity was relegated to the sidelines of my experience, for sure.
I always wrote during the toddler nap years, and through nursery school, as well. During the elementary and later years of our daughter's schooling I penned four novels and a bunch of stories--mostly soft, sociological science fiction for young adults. So I always played around with ideas, and have two of four novels that I hold dear because they embrace my deepest values. The other two novels were fun but were more "entertainment" than value-driven. I finally gave up writing to pursue my art, which had for years been on the back burner even though I took an occasional painting class at the local art league, to keep my hand in it. One day I may pick up those manuscripts and send them out again. But right now I'll "settle" for the art. For me, both art and writing are consuming processes that require total commitment, and I'm not one of those people who can do everything. I'm not willing to sacrifice quality (or what I perceive as quality) for quantity.
I find that now, at my seasoned age, I have the time and wherewithal to devote myself to creative process. Finally, it is a process, and I'm grasping the "Being-ness" that everyone was talking about in the 60s. In the past year, I have fallen in love with painting. I could eat and sleep, walk and talk, painting. As a matter of fact, I awaken with too many ideas to get up and make notes on, for fear that my adrenaline will then keep me up all night.
The process has taken over and finally, it's not being truncated by other concerns. I'm still delinquent on gardening and as domestically challenged as ever, but I don't mind defaulting on some of those obligations. And if dinner is late, well, everyone knows where the frig is.
It's not as if I don't have any problems. I do, like every other human being. But the overriding feeling, as I delve more and more into the feel and character of the paint, is bliss. I feel so fortunate to be experiencing this joy. One thing leads to another--each image calls for a dozen or a thousand variations. The bounty is overwhelming, the color and rhythm and flow of it the most satisfying experience I have had in this life. I thank the powers that be for this creative impulse that is at once a joy and a burden. But if I have to have a burden, creativity is the burden I want.
The only real difference between then and now, is that I finally have continuity, the time to BE in the experience. I have process. Thank goodness for process.
Text and Photo c 2007 Lynda Lehmann. Please visit www.lyndalehmann.com to see more of my art or read some of my ideas about art. You can purchase "Straight to Heaven" at my site.