The weekly Artist’s Date (in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) is designed to push us beyond our comfort zones — or creativity block, if that’s the current state of affairs. As much as I enjoy these dates with my creative self, I need more to move the dust balls, turn things upside down, to take me outside of the familiar. During last Sunday morning’s spinning class at the gym (I managed to tear myself away from my modular knitting project), we were cycling to one of those music tracks in which you can close your eyes and zone out to the music for six minutes or so. There I was, spinning away while imagining myself on a road bike, swooping down a hill, leaning into the curve along the rural wooded road, sky-high evergreens on either side. Vivid memories of the longest road trip of my life — the “Multiple Sclerosis Mystic 150” way back in 1992 — suddenly filled my head, as clear as if I were there again. While glorying in this unexpected perk of my accelerated fitness routine for ’07, legs rhythmically going round and round and beads of sweat falling from my face, I had an ‘ah-ha’ insight about the lead character in the novel I’m writing. This was so exciting! I kept peddling, but was immediately reminded of one of Cameron’s earlier suggestions:
She says that repetitive activity can spur creative thoughts and I couldn’t agree more. Who knows why some ideas take longer to percolate to the surface than others. I don’t. But the moral of the story? Keep spinning! It’s good for both body and mind.
On Saturday afternoon my husband and I decided to make a spontaneous trip down to Cambridge. There’s a fancy paper store on Mass. Ave. that I’d known about for a long while but had never visited, and with gift-shopping as an excuse, we decided to check it out. I’ve been a traveller since my family moved to Nantucket Island when I was eight, and my siblings and I would take the ferry boat to Woodshole and a Greyhound bus to Boston during school vacations to visit our father. Like a happy dog sniffing the fresh air from the car window as it zips along a highway, the exhilaration of being on the road never seems to wane for me. We live only an hour north of Boston, but the cultural contrast to southern New Hampshire is dramatic . The act of getting out of my regular environs and walking from Porter to Harvard Square, elbow-to-elbow with crowds of people that all looked much younger than myself, window-shopping, catching snippets of conversation in a multitude of languages, was an artist date in itself! Even a small jaunt like this was enough to give new perspective. I came home with the newest issue Vogue Knitting magazine and its stunning modular bolero jacket on the cover; I was newly inspired. Moral of this story? Mini-day-trips are good for the soul. No passport required.