Getting Lost In Art

We can easily lose sight of ourselves during this unusual time. Fear and anxiety mess with our equilibrium. I see fewer friendly faces on my walks, some appearing suspicious of those they encounter in the jungle. In response, I tend to ramp up my friendliness to counteract the solemn looks. I’m not sure it works, but it helps me feel better.
Many people have taken to creativity to fill the time and to soothe the angst. I was listening to a musician, on CBC Radio this morning, speak of his need to create music, as necessary to him as breathing. And it got me thinking.
Creativity takes many shapes, the possibilities only limited by our imagination. A baker who makes cookies and cupcakes and loaves of bread each day may not consider the medium of flour and butter and eggs an artistic endeavour, but I would hazard a guess that many would. An everyday undertaking may be a job for one person but for others becomes a creative extension of self.
I am building an enclosure for my portable generator, to keep it safe and dry, and I won’t have to haul said generator out of the shed every time the power goes off, which seems increasingly frequent. A carpenter building such an enclosure would find this a menial task, easily completed in a few hours. This is not the case for the likes of me. It becomes a lengthy labour of love.
One of my father’s favourite pass-times was drafting plans for buildings he might, though most often didn’t, build, his drawings so precise, a work of art in themselves. Now it is me sitting at my kitchen table, with graph paper, sketching what I think will work, modifying the design and amending and modifying and amending until I have six or more sketches. I tend to lose track of which sketch is the most current. I make a list of lumber and a list of notes that all start the same way – remember to … I’ve measured and re-measured my generator to consider air flow and getting the generator in and out, wishing I was taller (with no bearing on anything, but I thought you’d want to know).
Once I start to assemble, after having cut all the puzzle pieces, I begin to relax. Hammering nails is great therapy and putting it all together is a creative adventure, never quite sure what I will end up with, but ever hopeful.
I had a great aunt on my mother’s side, whom I only knew of. She was born circa 1884, somewhere in the middle of fifteen children. She, a single mother, moved West from Manitoba with her children, and became a cabinet maker to support her family. In my mind, she is the stuff of super-heroes. She created something for herself at a time when such an idea would have been impossible to most, and I would guess it wasn’t an easy road for her. I like to think that every piece of cabinetry she created was an expression of art, of survival but something more, that she might get lost in the creation, of sanding and gluing and shaping, taking her away from the complications of her life.
In her memory, I will build, with but an ounce of her skill, and we’ll see what I end up with, and if it takes me away from missing my children, even if only for moments, then the time was well spent, regardless of the outcome.
wendistewart@live.ca