“The daily conflict between the stimulus of habit-keeping and that of habit- breaking, is only part of the larger problem of regularity and adventure in the life of the creative thinker…the artist..cannot always tell whether absence of effort means an increase or a decline of energy, especially where activity which originally required severe effort has become habitual” — Graham Wallas, The Art of Thought
I wear many hats in my life. In any given day I could be digging a hole by the driveway, teaching middle schoolers how to create color scales, lecturing on civilization building in the Ancient Near East, editing videos, meditating on a mountain top, dyeing wool in a jar, standing on a fifteen foot ladder finishing a stitch one of my art works, or planning birch bark wedding cakes. I could list dozens more. I often have days when all of these events occur before noon. But even though this all sounds disparate, all of these different things make up all of the thoughts, emotions, memories and actions that are the intangible “I”.
Some years ago, I assigned an altered book project. An altered book is a transformation in form and meaning. Tomorrow my work life shifts and my daily routine will undergo changes to accommodate an influx of new tasks. Like most of the world, I will be adding new virtual connections to the rest of the work I do from home. My habits and rhythms will shift, but like the altered book, the pages and the words in my core will remain, only the actual events for this next space of time might change their order.
Wallace posits that perhaps habit gives the illusion that , as an artist, if I stick to habit in my routine and action, I might need less energy to fuel my creative output. I am not so sure this is true. I plan to go into the next month with the extra energy needed to overcome the carving of a new “habit-path”.
Like my students drilling into the book, leaving some of the pages intact, taking away others, reshaping and reforming the object into a palimpsest rich with meaning, I will add layers of new activity and idea, never losing the old, keeping my foundation of stitches.