Just Because

I have written before about transcending my upbringing. I have also written about zentangles in the context of projects that don't go the way you think they will.

Recently, I've noticed another way in which zentangles help me (in the words of a former boyfriend, long ago) "get over my own bad self."

I draw zentangles for no reason. Just because. I do it to do it. I have no plans for them beyond the doing of them. It's PLAY.

Hear that? That noise you heard was transcendence, folks.

In my family of origin, we had activities and we took lessons. (We also had time for lazing around, dilly-dallying, reading, and dawdling, when we could escape our mother's watchful eye. Thank goodness for siblings.) As we got older, we were expected to become more serious about our activities. I swam competitively; I took music lessons. I was expected to practice these pursuits as regularly and conscientiously as I did homework (which was top priority in our home). Because if you're going to do something, you should do it as well as possible. Maybe get a scholarship. Maybe become a professional. Who knows where excellence can lead? So went the talk in my family.

All of which had some wonderful benefits. I swam competitively (with varying degrees of seriousness and success, but enough seriousness to do organized workouts several times a week) until I was 30, when I realized I was finished. As an adult, I played in some semi-professional groups -- even practicing voluntarily and enjoying it immensely.

But for all the benefits, pursuing creative activities seriously can also feel like pressure, not play. Although I enjoy writing, that's sure not why I do it. It's my life's work. Sometimes I don't enjoy the doing of it, but I always enjoy having done it. It's rewarding, not always fun. I welcome that -- it's the "un-fun" parts, the rejection, the revision, the "not-yet-ready-to-submit" versions that I learn from. I am serious about writing, in that I seek challenges to stretch my skills and I do it for a purpose.

And drawing is *not* my life's work. It's fun. It's play. It is, as my husband says, worth doing badly. The point is, in the doing of it, to do it. And I revel in it.