I live foggy and numb a lot lately. A few years ago, my counselor told me that my body was doing important work. “Bodies are smart. They have a shut-down mechanism so that you don’t feel everything that you experience. If you did, some days would be too much.” So I live foggy, a lot. Thanks body. The good news is that I don’t have extreme lows. The downside is that the pendulum doesn’t swing very far the other way either. I live in the middle. A hammock instead of a tilt-a-whirl. I used to get so excited, like a kid, when I was doing something new. Christmas morning, going to Six Flags, riding a motorcycle or in a convertible, a dinner party, a Giants’ game- they all surged my emotions. Now, I tell myself, “Self, you would normally get excited about this, so be present to this moment. It really is spectacular.”
However, there is an exception.
Art gets me. It grabs me and reads me and understands me. It tells my story and feels my feelings. It communicates what I don’t quite have the words for. It doesn’t have to alleviate my pain, it expresses it for me. Art holds the key to my unlocked emotions and when I give it its required space, it gladly opens the door. It’s not just me- it’s you too. But art has an enemy. Its arch nemesis is hurry. Art is a foreign language which requires that I spend time with it to understand it. It is not my native tongue, so I must work with it, study it, hone my understanding of it. To skim a fiction book or worse, to keep my cell phone distraction next to me while I read, to walk flippantly through a museum, to fast-forward a movie, to text during a play is to blaspheme art. Art is a jealous friend that requires full attention. My friends have become accustomed to my distracted focus, but art isn’t as gracious. For art to breathe, for it to inhale and exhale blood and life, it must have undivided attention. For art to incite my imagination and stimulate my rusty feelings, I have to yield my pace. Hurry, multi-tasking, working hard and getting things done quickly has its place, just not with art. The true artist has the ability to highlight what I wouldn’t normally see and tell me why it’s important. I don’t see that if I’m in a rush. My receptors are inhibited by hurry.
My culture is an art killer. But Tiffanni, she is my artist nurturer. I can’t brush her teeth too quickly or she’ll get cavities. I can’t feed her too quickly or she’ll choke. I can’t walk fast or she’ll trip. I can’t talk too fast or she gets lost. I can’t do her makeup too quickly or she’ll look like a clown. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way. She forces me to slow down. She causes me to rethink my schedule and adjust my day to remove the events that don’t matter so that I have enough time for the things that do. Some days I sit in between bites and think, “I’m here doing nothing in nowhere.”
As she encourages my art appreciation through her tempered pace, she loses hers. She can’t read anymore. Can’t understand music. Can’t keep up with movies. Can’t stay still for the theater. So, sometimes we do nothing and sit Nowhere. We eat blizzards and sit quietly. We ride in the car, quietly. We sit on the back porch, quietly- and she makes space for me to visit Nowhere.
Hurry escorts me to places that are detrimental to my soul, my family, and my relationships. To un-hurry is to go Nowhere. And it is Nowhere that art makes its home. Art, the antidote to my foggy life. And there in Nowhere Tiffanni is the uncontested mayor. Others campaign for the attention of hurry, workaholism, multi-tasking, and noise. Not Tiff- she is content to lead her quaint little city. When I visit, my world slows and my busy-satiated mind calms. My attention is drawn to the beauty that escapes the rushed. The mayor helps dissipate the fog. And you wouldn’t want anyone else running this city, trust me.