Sunday, November 16, 2014

Community in Solitude

I recently posted a photo on Facebook:
For us introverts, this makes perfect sense. It's not that we don't ever want to be around other people; it's that it's something we have to plan for: it can be exhausting, even if we love you. It can make us grouchy, even if we're having a great time. It can make us seem rude even when we're working really, really hard to use all our social skills and our Big Girl Manners.

For me, being in the midst of a fabulous, thriving, involved art community—say, a town with all my favorite creative people—would be overwhelming. I'd want to be involved, but after a while, I'd have to hide out in my closet with a book and some cats. Therefore, I've discovered, art retreats are perfect: they last for a little while, and then you get to go home and be by yourself BUT: you're home by yourself but you're surrounded by the people you like best.


OK, so I can speak only for myself, but for me, this is the way it works: I love few things more than sitting and stitching, and I like doing it in public (if no one forces me to interact too much), and I most especially love doing it with other people sitting around doing whatever they do: knitting or sketching or painting or beading or whatever. And that's what I get to do a lot of at Art is You. In the evenings, people gather in the lobby or the bar, esp. in Stamford where there's a nice, big space with lots of comfy places to sit and big coffee tables for spreading out your stuff, and they bring whatever they're working on and a glass of wine and hang out. People show each other how to do stuff—Juliana Hudgins was showing people how to use her Jewel Loom, and I showed Keith Lobue how to do teensy little mending stitches for his fabulous vintage coat—and sometimes they talk and sometimes they sit and listen, and it's relaxed and people are laughing and it's just the best. (And because there's usually a largish group, when we introverts have had too much stimulation, we can sneak out and go to our room and breathe quietly.)

And then, when I get back home, and I'm sitting by myself (well, not really: I never sit by myself because as soon as I sit down, the cats immediately hear the sound of a lap being formed and materialize from out of nowhere to claim me as furniture), I'm imagining what everyone else is working on because I know that, somewhere, someone I know is doing something fabulous at that very minute. Maybe Kecia is weaving. Maybe Mary Beth is editing video. Maybe everyone I know is doodling in their journals. Wherever they are and whatever they're doing, though, there's something in the air, something that now flows through the ether, like a creative web that's running amongst us. My friend Wendy believes that there's a river of creativity flowing through the universe all the time, and we can step into it whenever we want. River, web—however you like to think of it. I like to imagine we've added to it and that now, no matter where we are or how far away we are from everyone else on the planet (that would be me), our creative spirits are connected and are weaving wonderful new stands of our web.

For us introverts who also crave a creative community, it doesn't get much better than this.

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