Subtract. 29/05/17

It is very rare for me to get time to myself. But today I have it and I am trying to be with it differently.  The key word here, being be. As a single parent my time - like it or not - is always filled. There is always a very long to do list which ranges from domestic tasks, to life tasks, to focusing on my practice; where the hunger is often the most insatiable. Due to this list and the rhythm of my everyday life, whenever I get time I am desperate and then almost paralysed by the many ways that I might spend and fill it. And that’s what I do, I fill, fill, fill. Do, do, do. Distract, distract, distract. Today however, as I find myself with precious time, I wonder how it would be NOT to fill it, NOT to do, but rather be. I know for many this is nothing knew and I have been here myself many times before, but today this realisation rang a little louder and particularly in relationship to my practice.  As I sat and watched the sea, it became clear to me that this is the role of the artist - to not fill, but to subtract, extract and distill, to arrive at the essence of things. In a time of extreme busyness, how can the artist show a different way? It has become a popular catchphrase - Stop the glorification of busy - but some of the busiest people I know are artists, particularly artists who are also parents. How does one shift this? How do we make time to waste time? How do we be in practice? Be with one another, in a way which is not about filling, but rather subtracting and distilling? I look up the word subtract and its Latin lineage; mid 16th century: from Latin, subtract - ‘drawn away’, from sub - ‘from below’ + trahere ‘to draw’.

I see the ocean in front of me, drawing from below.  

I think of my organs.

I draw in a breath. 

And in that instance, the meaning of the word subtract, changes for me. 

I draw in another breath and I come to sadness; How can we let that be? How can we not fill when we come to sadness? Surely this would shift our culture of consumption? Our culture of filling? 

This place, by the sea, to which I have moved was a subtraction in a way, I am taken with the distillation that is occurring here and the emptying. 

Here’s to not filling, perhaps the new radical, perhaps the new way of the artist