Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rest is a verb

For the past few months I have been finishing my book and preparing for a performance at the same time. I've been pushing myself hard to get it all done. I performed on Tuesday and it was fun. It felt good to play my cello for people again.

LadderThis year I feel like I've been climbing stairs without a break. When I have a project to write, it consumes me. It is the first thing on my mind when I wake up, and the last thing on my mind when I go to sleep. If I sleep at all.

In the middle of a creative project I have trouble sleeping. Falling asleep is no problem, but I just can't stay asleep. My mind is active, running up internal stairs.

It isn't unusual for me to work 16 hour days, seven days a week when I am actively creating. The fires of creation drive me to go, go, go, go all the time. I am aware of how unhealthy this is. I just don't know where to find the off switch. This is nothing new.

I was driven as a kid. I woke up before school and practiced scales, etudes, and Bach. Then I went to orchestra rehearsal and school. During study hall I practiced sonatas. After school I practiced orchestra music and concertos before dinner. After dinner I practiced concertos until my mom asked if I did my homework. Homework? CRAP! I'd put my cello down and do my homework. Well, most of it anyway. The next morning, I was up and practicing at dawn again. Nine hours a day during the school week, I practiced the cello.

I always put in at least 20 hours a weekend practicing. My goal was 24 hours of practicing in a weekend. Stacks and stacks of empty Diet Pepsi cans piled up by my cello endpin. I didn't stop to eat unless forced to. I just practiced. No one told me to practice. They told me to stop! But, even when I wasn't playing the cello, I was practicing it in my mind. I was driven by an internal creative need, one I don't understand, but still feel all the time. When MG weakened my arms and playing the cello became difficult, I rediscovered writing. Now writing consumes me the same way practicing used to. The only off switch I have found is finishing a project.

 Life Etudes is finished.

Maybe someday I will discover a balance between creating and resting. Then again, I've been saying that to myself for the past 30 years! My creative mind seems to have two speeds: 300 miles an hour and off. Right now, off feels good. Rest is a verb. Rest is an active thing, an important thing. A few days ago my husband and I went on a vacation to Wisconsin. We celebrated our 24th anniversary. We also rested.

No phone. No internet.

Just tall trees and sunlight by day, and a billion stars at night.

I traveled across a bridge from frenzied activity to quiet reflection.

I found a magical spot to cool the fires of creation.

A chance to refuel the inner wellspring.

And dream of what to create next.

To learn more about my new book, please CLICK HERE. Thanks!

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