Thursday, February 2, 2012

Whatever Are You Saving Them For?

I've written before that I have no hobbies other than reading and writing. Of course, that's not strictly true, and I have the boxes of craft supplies to show for it.

Still. I do very little these days other than reading and writing. So drawing zentangles has turned out to be a lot of fun, and oddly illuminating.

For example, many tangles are quite "dark" -- they're not so much patterns drawn in dark ink on white as white patterns left after you color in everything else. Even a basic checkerboard pattern is half colored and half not. I have found myself resisting drawing patterns with lots of "black space," not because I dislike coloring (I love it), but because using up all that ink?? It's WASTEFUL. And WASTING INK is WRONG. Because...why again?

Yes, generally, wasting things is wrong. Reduce, reuse, recycle, et cetera. But USING is not WASTING. I'm using ink to draw things. What is wrong with that?

And besides, ink? Really? What am I afraid of: that "they," whoever "they" are, will suddenly stop making pens and I'll have WASTED all this ink on these drawings that, oh by the way, bring me such pleasure?

As I was examining this line of thinking (not coincidentally, while I was drawing a zentangle), I realized that this resistance falls into a category that requires what my sister calls "transcending my upbringing."

Our parents grew up in poor families. In the reverse of the words to the hymn, they were poor in things and rich in soul. They grew into young adulthood in the 1930s. Later, they raised five kids on not enough money. As a result, we heard a lot about Delaying Gratification, about We All Have to Do Things We Don't Want to Do, about We Can't Always Do What We Want, about Representing the Family.

Worthy, worthy lessons to teach us. But sometimes a bit...stifling.

For example, my parents were known to eat a cookie. One. Sometimes my mother was "wicked" and ate two. TWO COOKIES. Who were these people? (And what happened to those genes? I can eat either zero cookies or an entire batch.)

My sister's example of learning to transcend this upbringing is to look ahead when she receives a calendar as a gift. She looks at ALL THE MONTHS instead of WAITING until that month to see the picture. (It's the little things, people.)

All this mental yakking about WASTE is also in my parents' voices. So I have been selecting tangles with lots of dark space, calming my breathing, and drawing them anyway. I have been using ink with reckless abandon -- I will not admit to WASTING ink because how exactly is this a waste? Besides, THERE IS MORE INK.

And because everything in my world gets back to writing eventually, so does this: Hoarding ideas is a bad thing. Put many things into an early draft because you don't know where they'll lead. You can cut them out later if it turns out that they don't fit.

Because the real way to waste an idea? Is NOT to use it.

(Great. Now I'm thinking about cookies.)