When did you last make something? Doodle on a piece of scrap paper? Sing a tune in the car orthe shower? These creative moments are food for the soul and we need more of them.
Mom collected leaves, shells, and rocks always. As an artist at heart, she noticed things. It is Christmas morning. Mom has dementia and is oblivious of that reality. People arrive at the house. We stand around the kitchen, laughing, and sharing stories. It’s time to cook the potatoes. We didn’t peel them. I ask mom to help, not sure if she still can. I give her a spot at the counter. In front of her is a bowl of washed potatoes with a peeler. I peel a few strands and hand her the tool.
When I turn back moments later she looks up at me. “Look,” she says, “It’s a face!” She had played with the peelings and pushed them into shapes. She goes back to her task, engaged, undeterred by the bustle of people in and out.
I scurry around to prepare for the meal. She is still focused on the potato art. She added a curved potato peel to make a jaunty hat on top of the face. She leans over with an intent look on her face, completely absorbed. The wet potato peels are reddish brown against the yellow counter. Time passes. She is still focused. I peel the other potatoes. Done.
That Special Quiet Place
We offered a mobile workshop for a day a few years ago. It began with poems and meditation to put our busy minds at rest before plunging into the project.
Dana set up the art room with a frame for each person to stand or sit on a stool and create their mobile. We had lots of supplies: beads, corks, pieces of wood, feathers, tools, glue gun, drill. People brought their own objects too. The art room at the Waldorf School is both organized and easy all at once, with nice light and a view of the city.
About mid-afternoon everyone was completely absorbed, much like Mom with the potato peels. A person stuck her head in the door to find someone. Her jaw dropped when she took in the scene. Ten people, each at a special station, all engaged in some aspect of building a mobile out of things that inspire them. It was a full silence. No talking, just adults engaged in a creative project. Some stand back and gaze at their creation. Others sit poring over a dish of shells or sea glass. Engagement like play. Don’t we need more experiences like this?