“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” Carl G. Jung
In one of my earlier blog posts Try Again Fail Again Fail Better I wrote about the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I also mentioned how following her instructions in the book I wrote morning pages on a daily basis. Another basic tool for creative recovery that she talks about and which I tried to accomplish is The Artist Date. What exactly is the artist date?
“An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on this artist date but you and your inner artist, a.k.a. your creative child. That means no lovers, friends, spouses, children- no taggers-on of any stripe.” Julia Cameron
A date alone with yourself, your artist self, your creative child. Sounds amazing right? The first thing that came to my mind was to have a nice cup of coffee somewhere. I am a coffee person and hence going on a coffee date was the most reasonable thing for me to do as a first date. The more I thought about doing it though the harder it appeared to be.
I realized that I had never been on a coffee date alone for quite some time now. I had always been either with my late husband or with my friends. Unfortunately I had lost two of my good friends to heart attacks and my husband to cancer all within three years of each other. I was hesitant at first. When I finally summoned up the courage and drove to the nearest Starbucks I felt so out of place that all I wanted to do was drive back home.
I didn’t go on artist dates after that for about three weeks. On the fourth week I thought I would give it a try again. Since I love books, pens, pencils, paper and notebooks, basically anything to do with writing materials, I decided to take my artist to a bookstore or a stationery shop.
So I drove to the nearest Staples. I roamed the aisles looking at different things. I really took my time to walk around the entire store. It felt good, I felt good. I remembered when I used to do the same thing with my kids back in the old days when we lived in Dubai.
When I was teaching and my kids were young children in elementary school, our school week started on Saturdays and ended on Wednesdays. So we had Thursdays and Fridays off, while my husband had Fridays and Saturdays off. Friday was our only day together as a family.
On Thursdays, to make it a special day for my kids, I used to take them out on a kind of shopping spree. They both had their weekly allowance depending on how clean and tidy they kept their rooms, and sometimes even an extra bonus for getting good marks. Both my kids loved to read and draw and paint. So on Thursdays I would take them to this shop called Fahidi Stationery on Fahidi Street in Bur Dubai, to buy whatever they wanted as long as they stayed within a limit of 10 dirhams of their savings.
Besides stationery, the shop also sold toys, children’s books, backpacks, lunchboxes, and lots of other stuff. Once inside I would watch their excitement as they each grabbed a basket and wandered through the aisles looking for things to buy, stopping and counting to check if they exceeded their limit or not. Back in the days there was no tax in Dubai and 10 dirhams could get them quite a few items.
Afterwards I would take them to eat burgers at a family-friendly restaurant where they could also watch Cartoon Network on a big screen. They would return home happy and anxious to try their new stuff and plan for their next trip. What we did then may not seem much, it may not have been something splendid or out of the ordinary, but I believe that those moments were the nicest and sweetest times that brought simple pleasures to us.
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to go on an artist date for over two years now. Most of the time I find myself longing for things I cannot have, for places I cannot go. I cannot live where I want. I cannot do things I love to do. I cannot even say what’s on my mind. Then I tell myself that it’s okay. It’s okay to long for things. It’s okay to dream. I can never give up longing and wishing, no one can. I feel the beauty around me and since I can only write, it would be stupid of me to not write about how I feel.
“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau