I’m coming down from a six-day vacation, precipitated by winter weather, President’s Day, and a cold that happened to incapacitate me for much of my free time. I’ve also had a stunning lack of motivation and creativity. Something has gone dormant, and that always makes me feel unsettled. I’d really like to chalk it up to illness, though that feels like an excuse.

I have a few potential projects that are up in the air which I’m not ready to discuss, mostly because of potential clients failing to come through in a timely manner. I’m good at doing work for other people. I’m great at painting for myself, or just making stuff that I feel like making, but this horrible mix of cold weather, frustration and perpetually blowing my nose has amassed to little more than a wastebasket full of tissues and a warm bed. So many beautiful ideas, and in my head, I feel like they’ve all pulled their heads into these little black shells and they refuse to come out until some mysterious catalyst convinces them otherwise. I don’t know what that thing might be just yet.

I’m also waiting for my projects to come back from the laser cutter, which will top out at three weeks by the time they get here. When I started using these folks, it took about ten days from start to finish, and most of that was shipping form California. I’ve spent summers working out in our family garage with a set of AV cabinets that the library was getting rid of, filled to the brim with wood bits and myriad nails and screws, and a few coping saws hanging on supporting beams, a pale mist of sawdust wafting through shafts of yellow daylight while The Black Keys played over some tinny speakers I’d torn off of an old CD player that stopped working 10 years ago. Sweating and kneeling in splinters and getting dirty and cut and alive. Sometimes, it feels like cheating to use a laser cutter and outsource pieces, and other times, it feels like a necessary part of evolution. I’ll never be able to afford the tools that I’d need to make cuts as precise as some of my ideas require. As long as something great comes out at the end of it all, that’s all I care about.

There’s this old episode of Star Trek : The Next Generation that involves (and I could be recalling this incorrectly) a whole bunch of special children being kidnapped from their home planet by a group of people who feels that they are more able to nurture these kids’ talents. There’s this one kid who wants to be an artist, so these benevolent people give him this sculpting tool that allows him to just think about the contours of what he wants to make as he passes this tool over the uncarved block of wood, and the image forms slowly. Ever since I saw then when I was a 12 or 13, I’ve always come back to that idea. How much of art is idea, and how much is technical skill, and where do they meet? Id getting stuff laser cut a Warholian answer to art, and does that cheapen anything? Is it a beautiful thing to embrace each new aspect of The Potential To Create and use it as deeply and intensely as possible?

I don’t even know why I care about these things. All I really care about is making neat things. I don’t care how.

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Eleasa brought me some homemade garlic soup on Saturday, and while I’m not sure if it merely coincided with the natural departure of the cold, or if it precipitated it, I was able to breathe through my nose for the first time in a few days. When she lamented the fact that she hadn’t been invited to sledding this year, we made plans to head over the to epic hill at the local Elementary School and give it a shot.

So, I loaded my niece into the car on Sunday, along with three styrofoam / plastic ‘snow boogie’ sleds and braved the cold weather. At this point, there were only a few kids going up and down the hill, which banks at a steep 45 degrees at some points, and hundreds of other tracks up and down the hill had solidified the whole thing into a sheet of dense, smooth ice, making the whole thing especially treacherous and amazing.

After many years of not sledding, it was so simple and exhilarating. Of course, my ample frame couldn’t manage to keep the sled going in one direction without spinning me around in every direction, but laying back and rocketing down a hill, completely out of control, but ultimately safe, was a necessary, liberating experience. I’m sure there’s a good deal of metaphors in there too.

Eleasa began to throw snowballs at kids she didn’t know, and into the cars of her friends. I continued to sled. I didn’t even have to lock my car or worry about my keys – we live in such a small town that everyone knows everyone else, and we are relatively safe, and I really love it. It’s lonely, but I love it, and this was one reason why. After, we went for a slice of pizza at a cash-only place around the corner and watched at the owner wrestle with the ATM machine so that we could actually buy food.

More art will come soon. I’m trying to feel good about relaxing, and breathing, and the art of doing nothing – but it always feels like the art of losing opportunities.

We’ll see.