Recently, I visited the house of a painter. I was walking around her gardens admiring her arrangements of plants and flowers on pathways winding around the property. The paths brought me to her studio where she was at work with a masterpiece. As I watched her at work, I noticed how a flurry of brushstrokes were followed by periods of sitting back, in a chair, looking at the painting. And then another flurry of strokes and more reflection.
We live in a distracted world where short, pithy, speedy responses are often viewed as more important than thoughtful and generous responses. We chase (and value) sexy, speedy, excitable and miss what matters. When we find ourselves anxious and needing to send someone chasing text messages when they haven’t responded within 1 hour to a non-urgent message, then perhaps we’re not the best version of ourselves.
Busy is often prized more than focus. We prize complexity over focus and clear communication. Sitting back reflecting on our work, listening to what it is saying to us, is not prized.
In a world infatuated with more and busy, artists have much to teach us about the vital importance of pausing, of reflection, as an integral part of our work not something separate or a luxury. Reflection helps find clarity, focus, and wisdom.
I am grateful to artists like Ruth, George, Rob, Martin, Meg, and countless others who have be incredibly generous to me over the years.