Pigs in the parlor

“Non-essentials will choke out creativity.” Edward Weston, a great American photographer, made this statement in a recently-released documentary. And so right he is.

In a class I taught on sowing seeds in different soils, a gentleman gave this illustration: He planted seeds in a field, later he put pigs in the field which uprooted everything, leaving the land barren. He turned out the pigs and brought in horses and cattle which fertilized the ground. Not too long after that, those seeds he planted began to sprout. Conditions had to change in order for those little seeds to have a chance to grow.

When I heard this, it became fodder for thought. Unnecessary busyness, possessions and time wasters such as TV are just a few things that will crowd out the freedom of expression, and are like pigs in the parlor. Non-essentials come in different packages and we embrace them as important to our lifestyle.

The more we have, the more responsibility we have, or is it the other way around?

I guess it works both ways. Junk begets junk. Would we have believed that truth in our twenties, thirties, or forties when we were acquiring things? Absolutely not! I say that because in those years we had youth, earning power, energy to keep up with “stuff” and a thirst for life as we saw it then.

We did not have a clear picture of what life was all about. Did we need the possessions that we thought we needed such as a bigger house and more vehicles? No, but we wanted them and that seemed good enough. We didn’t mind working even beyond reason for things and letting them rob us of our creativity, not to mention time. We felt we were young and could handle all that we acquired.

I asked a friend what she thought was the non-essentials that took away her creativity. She said, “TV and things like that. It takes away my time to think creatively.”

We also put a lot of rules on ourselves. Out of duty we lie to ourselves and keep doing what we think we are supposed to do, such as demanding from ourselves, being everything to everybody.

Then there are the people who we allow to crowd into our creative space. We can’t say no and we don’t even realize that we have that right. People can suck the life right out of us by their negativity or the lack of their own boundaries. It may sound like I am checking out of society and becoming a recluse; not at all, I am just being honest and coming into my own.

We all accumulate material possessions, have people for the sake of having people around, and do activities or have responsibilities that have prevented seeds from growing in our hearts and minds. The condition we have grown accustomed to will not allow the seeds to grow freely. We have let the pigs come in and root up the seeds of creativity and kill the ground.

So, what are the essentials?

For Edward Weston, it was a shack with one big room, a bathroom and a dark room; keeping life simple and being very selective of who he wanted around him. For each person it is different. I am not going so far as Weston, I still enjoy certain pleasantry that makes life better for me and mine. Better and cluttered are different matters.

My sweet husband, Al, reminded me of the parable of the prodigal son. “When the son came to himself, he asked, ‘Why am I in this pig pen?’ No one was holding him there but himself.” When we finally come to ourselves and ask and answer honestly, “Is this essential?,” then that will be the day when we start driving out the pigs that steal the seeds of creativity.

I have begun to be aware of things such as, answering to only a few people who I have given the right to demand my time. I have quit buying just because it was on sale. I’m cleaning closets and getting rid of all the excess that I never wear and guarding my time and making only necessary trips to town. I have quit being so important to people which is very freeing. I have received several invitations for art shows which I have opted to pass on, for they are not essential for where I am going.

Maybe it is age, or maybe I am finally coming into some wisdom, but the seeds planted in my heart years ago, that lay dormant, are starting to sprout. What a wonderful time in life, letting go and letting my imagination run free to express what has been in me all along.

The Final Brushstroke

It may be the condition of the soil, not the seeds that block your creativity.

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Quote for the Week

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant” — Robert Louis Stevenson.

At the Co-op

Visit our Web site, www.pagosaspringsartists.com. We are still receiving works by artists and craftspeople who want to become a member of the Co-op.

The Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op (150 Pagosa St.) is looking for a potter and photographer. Call Patti for more information at 946-7765.