What are you waiting for?

Recently, a friend told me that since the pandemic hit she’s been waiting. Waiting for life to get back to normal. But we know that’s going to take quite some time, and waiting is not a great plan. It’s not really a plan at all.

Waiting like that is also a source of stress. Nothing can get going until whatever you’re waiting for has come to pass, which means all the energy is bottled up, looking for an outlet. And when it goes on too long, things get very bad.

Her message hit home. I’m waiting too, and I need to stop it. In an attempt to do so — and possibly to help others do the same — here are some of the things I am waiting for. I hope that by listing them out I can see just how dumb it is to be waiting for them.

  • Waiting for the pandemic to end. This is entirely out of my control on any real level. I can — and am — staying home as much as possible to avoid becoming a disease statistic and vector by which it spreads, but I must stop waiting for something that might be two years away.
  • Waiting to move into the new house. Also out of my hands. There’s a known closing date approaching at calendrical speed. It will arrive in due course. In the meantime I need to stop worrying about it.
  • Waiting to pack for the move. This one is almost intelligent. It won’t take that long, really, and even getting the boxes out will drive the dogs nuts. But I must get started one of these days. I probably should start soon.
  • Waiting to make art. I have many impulses, but no follow through of late. I’m building a list of media and work to do— I’ll share it below — but thus far it is hard to stick with anything long enough to make progress.
  • Waiting more generally. Waiting… for a plan to come together. This is harder to explain, and I’m not even sure how real it is. I’ll try, though.

I knew things were going to change when school ended. Graduation meant a new chapter of life would begin. The specifics were always a bit vague, but here are the highlights as I saw them. Note how the waiting issue creeps back into these as well.

  • Find permanent, long term housing. (Done. Waiting. See above. But I thought this would take months, not just two and a half weeks. Life is weird.)
  • Make art and household projects to keep busy. (Waiting on new house, studio/shop, tools, etc.)
  • Consider finding a part time job to keep somewhat busy. This is on hold indefinitely. I don’t actually need a job, and other people need work. The last thing I should do is take a job that could be paying someone a wage that will make a difference to them. Also, given my age, being out in public during the pandemic doesn’t feel ideal.
  • Alternately, I could find some volunteer work to do. The pandemic has put this on hold as well. Most places that might want volunteers are just starting to consider opening back up here in BC, and as with a job, being out in public might not be all that smart right now. Is there volunteer work I could do from home? Maybe, but I am waiting to move and settle in so I can focus on whatever I might choose to do, assuming I head down that path. If I started something now, in a few weeks I’d have to stop while we move, at least.
  • A drastic change in the pace of life. I’ve described the transition from the final semester at art school to pandemic induced isolation as suddenly shifting from fifth gear to park on the freeway. Before the change there was too much to do. I worked on projects at crazy speed. Then — suddenly — I had nothing to take up my time. The adjustment is challenging, and I am still learning to deal with it. Waiting for it to become normal, if you will. At this point my motivation must come from within, rather than from others. I’ve done this before — successfully — and I will again. I just need to work out the kinks. I should also stop thinking of it as pandemic induced. This was the plan all along, after all.

Some plan, eh?

I need to stop kicking myself about my lack of productivity and instead focus on the fact that my wife and I are accomplishing a lot in a very brief time. We’re getting a new home, and we’re moving again in the process. We’re adjusting to the new rhythm of the two of us being in the house at the same time, all the time. And a lot of the things I want to do will come to pass after we’ve settled into the new place.

Between now and when that settling in period is over, I have tasks — packing, planning, and painting the new place as needed — that will keep me busy, and it’s OK if I don’t get much more than that done for a while.

I am building a list of art or project related things I want work on. Some of these might see some progress before we move, while others will definitely wait. Since I am a fan of lists, I will share it with you:

  • Continue working on folded / cut paper as a sculpture medium.
  • Wood carving. I have a couple of things in process, and more are possible.
  • Stone project. In process and proceeding slowly. The cut off bits may also become another project on their own as well.
  • Painting. Yes, really. I have a flock of cheap canvases and some ideas. They will all stink until I get better, and the only way to do that is to practice. But I need a studio with a floor I don’t care about dripping on first. Even in the new place I am not certain about that yet.
  • Sculpture made of wood glue. Weird, I know, but this has been on my mind for weeks. I have ideas that might work. Again, though, I don’t have a place to try it yet.
  • Wall hung sculpture made from wood and wire. Vague plans that require more tools than I currently own.
  • Reading lights for our new living room. Wood, wire, and LEDs. Again the plans are vague and I don’t yet own the tools needed, but I will get there.
  • Create an LED based fireplace insert. The fireplace in the new house might not be usable. The home inspection recommended having it checked out by a pro, and we will do that once we’re moved in. Should it not be salvageable, one option is to insert something that flickers and is pretty inside it. I have some thoughts on how that could be done.
  • Other projects involving LEDs and a simple computer processor. Just for fun. Lots to learn to make that happen, though, as with the fireplace insert.
  • Equip the shop and studio for all of these things.
  • Learn Inkscape, a vector graphics editing program much like Adobe Illustrator. It’s free, and I just found a set of online tutorials about it that might help me get past my innate distrust of my own graphics design capabilities.
  • Digital art of various kinds. This is partly the collaboration I mentioned last week, and possibly something else. I’ve also got a mosaic concept that came out of the collaboration idea. Maybe these use things made with Inkscape.
  • Writing. I still feel like I should try my hand at fiction. Assuming I can get past blank page syndrome.
  • Family history research. Why not go see what the internet has to say about my ancestors? Could be amusing.

On top of all that, the new place has lots of walking trails close by, and I clearly need plenty of exercise. Regular hiking will be good.

That list grows regularly. There are already so many options that the act of choosing what to work on next might become a problem. On the other hand it’s reassuring to know the ideas are still flowing. Not having a clue what to do would be a real problem.

I hope you will gently and nicely help keep me motivated. There may not be much progress for a few months — during the move and settling in period, at least — but asking for an update is always welcome.

I am also very motivated by seeing and hearing what others are doing. Art school was great for that. Being surrounded by people working hard on various projects was almost addicting. If you’re doing something and want to share it, please do so. I want to hear about it. We can celebrate your successes and discuss options along the way.

It’s a path. Please join me.

Two quick things here at the end:

First, if you’re a puzzle fan — and even if you’re not — I have a video to recommend. This comes from the YouTube channel Cracking The Cryptic. In it one of the two presenters — a calm and charming British man named Simon — solves an amazing Sudoku variant. Listening to his various exclamations of joy as he goes through it is quite wonderful. It’s titled “The Miracle Sudoku.” Even if you’re not a puzzle fan, it’s quite nice to see what he does and how he works through it. Worth the watch.

And second, for my coffee obsessed friends — you know who you are — I found this the other day and thought of you:

I suppose that could also be for Monty Python fans, now that I think about it.

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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