Monday, January 19, 2009

The art of relaxation

It was pointed out to me (I don't remember exactly when, but it was no doubt during one of the many times I've chosen to repetitively poke my fella in the forehead with my pokey fingers, chanting, 'talk to me, talk to me, talk to me...' etc. etc. You get the idea...) that I don't have a hobby. At the time, it wasn't 'the time' and the response was little more than the slight expulsion of steam via the aural canals, a puffing sound (resembling an overweight rhino on heat) and a very frosty, 'I draw!!!' But since then, that observation has become an elephant in the over-stuffed, cubby-hole room of my mind... What's more, I have realised it's not only that I don't have a hobby, infact I have absolutely no idea how to relax at all. Who knew it was a learned skill?! Relaxation is an activity, actively requiring... active acts! What a conundrum...

I have noticed other people effortlessly relax. They relax with the greatest of ease, simply stopping at the end of the 'work portion' of their day and slipping with barely a ripple into 'play' section. They garden. They cook. They read. These are NOT advanced acts of relaxation we're talking about. We're not talking tantric, yogic, meditation with a side helping of the Alexander technique and a sprig of chamomile here. (Can you get sprigs of chamomile? Or does it just grow in teabags?) These activities simply require a little regular time set aside and a moderate amount of dedication, perseverance, patience and motivation. And the trouble here is that I'm actually breaking into a sweat just thinking about these necessary requirements. Isn't it just easier to work? I know how to do that. Since my internet went on the blink and I had to go 'cold turkey' on my habit of looking every 5 mins for potential dogs to rehome, I can also actually say I'm GOOD at it too. It just sounds like too much work to learn to relax.

The thing is though, as romantic as it's sounded to me all these years to 'think art,' 'breathe art' 'live art' and 'BE the art,' there's no eventual escape from the small fact, that that's really a rather stinky pile of pretentious twaddle! I'm just simply NOT Picasso. I'm a midget getting high on a diet of M&S iced buns and stress. Where's the romance in that?! Nope, there's no doubt that if type 2 diabetes and a heart attack are to be avoided, a healthy dose of relaxation is in order.

But where does a beginner start? There are no regular hours to being an illustrator. You work until you get the job done... or you've carked it in the attempt. Setting aside time to NOT do anything, when you've got 'plenty to be getting on with' is tricky. You end up just counting down the minutes until you can start again, thinking 'thank god that's over and I don't have to do any more of that pesky 'nothing' anymore!' So, I think the best idea for the beginner A.K.A Me is to pick something they/I can do any time for any length of time.

I've started running. I wouldn't say it was a hobby. It's not something I particualarly enjoy. Sweating isn't one of my favourite things and that chesty feeling of iminent doom even less so. It was more a case of my fella suggesting with subtle hints (involving a puce face ((his)) and an EXTREMELY ANGRY retaliating pointy finger) that if I didn't find another outlet, either my or (most likely) his head may explode. So, there you are, I jog... vaguely... for not very long... but I jog. And during that time, I don't think about work. It's a start. I'll be making vol au vons, souffle and potting... er, things, in no time at all. Just you wait and see.