Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Different Art Exercise with Calendars

My thoughts on calendars yesterday took me back to an exercise we did during the September retreat to plan the creativity retreat.  We arrived to our tables after breakfast to find 3 markers at our seats; everyone had different colors.  Our leader brought in a blank calendar page, October, for each of us.  We were told to fill in our calendars however we'd like.  We could use the markers of our neighbors, but we couldn't talk.  We would have 10 minutes.

Here's what I did:

We had been studying the texts that talked about miracles, so I had multiplying loaves and fishes on the brain.  I had Halloween on the brain, as you can see on the bottom left.  The big purple thing on the left started out life as something else, and then it grew.  The thorny branches above it came about when I was filling in a square that I thought was a travel week-end, and then I realized I was coloring a week early.

I wish I had taken pictures of everyone else's.  We were a group of artists, so one woman turned her calendar sideways, and one woman simply colored in each block.  Some of us treated the page like the calendar it is, filling it in with notes and appointments.  Some people worked against the grid, and some people used it to impose order.  It was amazing what we could produce in just 10 minutes.

We talked about how much we enjoyed the exercise.  We talked about what would happen if we simply doodled for 10 minutes every morning; I have yet to try that.  We talked about the medieval practice of the book of the hours and other illuminated manuscripts.  I thought about combining doodling and collaging and keeping gratitude lists.  I confess that I haven't attempted it yet, although I did buy a package of Crayola markers.

We talked about the activities that fill our calendars and our attempts to tame our schedules.  We all wrestle with the same issues:  too much that we'd like to do and too little time to do it all.

But the exercise reminded us that we each get precisely the same amount of time, no matter how we want to divide or decorate our little boxes.  When we take a hard look at how we spend our time, we'd probably be amazed at how much time we're not utilizing well.  How much television are we watching?  How much Internet wandering?  Are we exercising enough or not enough?  Can we make a pot of soup that can nourish us for several days or do we feel the need to whip up something fresh each day?

And then there's the issue of laundry and housework.  My house is dustier than I would like, but at the end of the year, I'd rather have more writing done than a dust-free house.

As we move towards the next calendar year, it's a good time to reflect on what we've done and what we'd like to do.  How can calendars and to-do lists help?

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