I catch myself doing this frequently. I am hunched over my work and deeeeeeeply engrossed, lost in the details of a piece and then just before I pass out, I remember I really ought to breathe. My mind is prisoner to the concerns of getting the flavor of every detail in place; how that line translates into object, how that curve captures a feeling, how that shading creates motion and space. My body is possessed by the Inner Bohemian Artist who clearly thinks that breathing is overrated. The Piece is everything, the Piece is one, the Piece is all and then . . . I remember to breathe. It’s in these little spaces between breath I try suspend all judgment, good or bad, because living near my Inner Bohemian Artist is Klaus the Kritick (that’s how he spells it; don’t question him). Klaus is always glaring over my shoulder: “Who the hell do you think you are? What are you some kind of an artist? This is crap? What person in their right mind would even call this . . . this . . .this scribbling art? This wouldn’t even line the tray of my bird cage!” (Until that moment, I was unaware he possessed any pets.)
You’ve now met Klaus. Where my Inner Bohemian Artist dances to the rhythms of the colors before her and taps her belled toes to her own inner beat, Klaus is concerned with Convention and Proper Form. Inner Bohemian Artist is willing to make a mess to see what happens; Klaus berates her for not utilizing academic technique and, for goodness sake, clean up! Inner Bohemian Artist could hardly care less what anyone thinks about what she does, Klaus the Kritick thrives on the Critique and public approval, great accolades, even. Really, he’s the reason I hold my breath. To stop breathing is to stop living ~ literally. Even though my Inner Bohemian Artist might forget about breathing (she can be a bit absent-minded), Klaus simply stifles me.
It is then I try to be good to myself in as selfish a way as possible. I’ll pace myself, so that I’m not completely immersed in Faeryland and unable to come back (although, it’s looking mighty attractive these days). I’ll brew myself the perfect cup of loose leaf Lapsang Souchong tea. (By the way, I found the rest of that pound I was certain was dwindling; I.B. Artist and I are very happy now.) The most inspirational CD for the moment is turned on to create artistic atmosphere. I’ll light candles; yes, even in broad daylight, even with the kitchen overhead light on. It’s the Living Light that sparks the soul. In doing all this, well, Ritual, I find Klaus leaves the room in a huff, clicking away in his patent leather boots (he’s just not a purple Converse sort of fellow). He can’t be bothered with such nonsense. He’d prefer pummeling I.B. Artist in the worst way and stuffing her into the nearest linen closet. Klaus doesn’t like music (unless it’s Wagner), detests good tea and thinks candles are only useful for starting huge conflagrations with Bad Art as fuel.
Even then, I still forget to breathe sometimes. Every once in awhile I can feel Klaus peering around the corner to check my progress or, rather, lack of it as he hardly approves of what I do. I ignore him, sit up from hunching, move my body and breathe deep. Rooted in that time-space continuum, Inner Bohemian Artist and I brew more tea and carry on with what we were doing. And we try not to call it ‘work.’