Posted by: mew | August 20, 2009

just you & I

Since my tendency would be to procrastinate all week and then, at the last minute, invite someone along for my Artist Date — if I went at all — I’ve arranged to do it today, early in week one, while F. is at school.  I have difficulty with this assignment, as you probably guessed from reading my personalized contract provisions.  I tend to undervalue play in life.  I think it is probably the result of the accumulation of years of subtle and outright disapproval and rejection of my natural dreamy childhood personality.  We’re dealing with some of that in this chapter, and it’s painful to even remember some of the wounds.  Just reading the phrase “head in the clouds” made my stomach clench in a ball.

And because of all of that, even though intellectually I know it’s wrong to try and force a child to fit the dominant cultural or family mold, I really feel uncomfortable spending time with my artist child.  I don’t feel uncomfortable spending time alone — reading or working or cleaning house or cooking, usually.  But with no utilitarian purpose?  Just for the fun of it?  This feels dangerous.  No wonder I have such intense resistance.  It’s basically threatening to my egoic identity.

Identity is a funny thing.  Based on all I have been told (over and over, ad nauseum) all my life, either in words or via body language, I would be very confident in telling you I’m a lazy person, a person who cannot focus, who does not have adequate drive or ambition, who is not organized or disciplined, who cannot “get it together.”  And yet F. thinks I drive myself insanely hard and work too much and don’t know how to relax much, and that I’m a little (o.k., a lot) too dependent on the fixed schedule and the a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place mentality.  He thinks I move around at lightning speed most of the time, and says my pace can be overwhelming.

I totally thought he was kidding when we first started dating – or maybe trying to flatter me.  (How sick is that?  I think “you work too much” and “you move too fast” are compliments….)  I mean, how could that be true?  I’m the slow one, the lazy one, the dreamy one, the one who stares out the window and doesn’t focus and refuses stay on schedule.  In fact, I think the world has been telling me for a while that this is no longer true.  I guess I don’t know myself very well anymore.

This Artist Date may seem silly.  A waste of precious time.  Julia says this resistance is merely fear of self-intimacy.

I get it.  I do.  But it doesn’t make it any easier to walk out the door.  The Ego is resisting the idea even now.  (“Oh, but you need to do the dishes and put in that call to the software licensing company,” a really urgent, bossy-sounding voice butts in as I type these sentences.)  Nonetheless, I’ve got everything I need ready by the door.  I’m about to change into my date outfit (even though I feel retarded just writing that down.)  And I’ve just put this on the stereo to get me ready to head out in the right frame of mind:

That’s what this date is about, dear artist child:  Just you & I, spending time together.

This is definitely not your mother’s bellydancing music.  I thought it might be fun to share it with my fellow travelers.  And I have a question for you as you listen.

Do any of you have difficulty doing the Artist Dates?  Am I alone in my pitiful resistance?



  1. Beautiful post.

    While in college I was the same way, very structured and always go go go. But since then I’ve learned to let go…and in some ways a little too much, to the point that although I may have a lot of time, I’m not structured in managing the free time more wisely for myself (if that makes sense).

    I’ve reached week 4 of The Artist’s Way but stopped, so it’s time to hit the restart button. And I know when I initially read “artist child” I was thinking “what kind of book is this?” But it’s very true how you start to see your inner artist child surface here and there, and in some ways you don’t even notice it until later.

    Anyways, I’m looking forward to following your progress in this journey 🙂 Hope you and your artist child have a wonderful date!

  2. ahh head in the clouds.. this is exactly what I was told as a child.. work was important.. why would I want to paint or create art? I was never ever given the opportunity and here I am at 51 having difficulty.
    I also have difficulty with play as in Artists date.. oh I can take myself to a gallery or I can take myself to a museum. easy. but play? blowing bubbles? I feel like an idiot.. grow up, i hear in my head. get in the real world…
    so yes, I know exactly what you mean..
    lets make a pact.. we will find the little girl who needs desperately to play and we will take her where she wants to go..
    (ps – you can link this on Week one if you wish.. that way it won’t get lost to the others.)

  3. ps – I see you did link! fantastic

  4. Groovy music…After a while art dates are easy. I’ve been doing them for some time. They are valuable to me….a chance to sneak away on my own and enjoy!You’ll love them!

  5. This is a great post…so open and honest. Love that. This book is a challange for me in some ways, as well. It totally hits “home” for me in many ways. I am determined to push through.

    Good luck to you on your journey. 🙂

  6. Great post! Yes, I hear the Censor in my head, and lately my Censor sounds just like yours– “but you need to be cleaning, you need to make this call, run this errand” blah, blah, blah. I have the best intentions regarding my Artist Date, however it has failed to happen yet. How about you? Sounds like you’re on the verge of heading out on a date, did you make it?

  7. Vanessa, I think I need to come more your way on the sliding scale, and you can scoot over a few inches this way, and then we’ll be in balance. The sad part? I think I used to be much more free and flowing, but I got told it was not acceptable. Now I have to work to get it back!

    Robyn, yes! Bless you for saying this about a little girl. It is actually helping me right now to visualize her as the little girl I once was. I can’t be mean to such an adorable, trusting soul — whereas I can be a pretty nasty taskmaster to my grown-up self. I’m with you on the pact, 100%.

    gemma, encouragement from someone who’s made the Artist Dates a part of their life is exactly what I need. I want to be this breezy about them. Check back with me in week 12; okay? And meanwhile, so glad you liked the music!

    Sonny, thanks for the affirmation and good wishes. I hope we push through together. All the group support is very helpful to me thus far. Is it helping you, too?

    IntotheDawn, maybe we should send our Censors out on a reconnaisance mission to gather cleaning supplies together, with a super long list, and then we’ll lock the door behind them and run giggling to grab our art supplies. What do you think?

    Yes, I managed to do the Artist Date! (And I hope you get yours done, too! It turned out to be so worth it for me. But if you don’t, no judgment because I *certainly* understand.)

    I only procrastinated another 2 hours beyond my planned start date. Quite a victory for me, and I keep wanting to find time to post all the juicy details. I may just give up and post a photo log and let folks guess what the heck me and the artist child did!

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