“Of all the ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work… What, I wonder, do these busy folks get done?”
– Soren Kierkegaard
Recently I was reading an article about busyness being laziness. The focus of the article was on how busyness is substituted as a means for fulfillment and meaning. And while it is true that being busy may get more things done, it does not mean they are the right things. The important things.
It seems that being busy will get things accomplished, moving from project to project, place to place, appointment to appointment. But it is rare that being busy will result in self-reflection, an examined life, a focused examination of what is most important in our lives.
Blaise Pascal noted, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
This struck me as a very important point, we, as artists and as photographers need to take to heart in the creation of our art.
I have found myself doing artistic busy work on more that one occasion. I rush from one project to the next, work on updating my website, make a list of things to be accomplished, blogs I need to write and a host of things I feel must do. Sometimes I find myself rushing through a potential image and end up realizing I am not sure why I made it and what I was hoping to communicate or even what I was feeling. I was on busy work auto pilot.
That is not to say that there are not things that need to be done as an artist. Certainly, we need to keep our files up to date, contact sheets and prints organized, inventories completed, chemicals mixed, shows organized, prints made, digital images updated, our websites and business concerns monitored.
But how often do we let these mundane and at times insignificant tasks take the place of creating art. We should not be involved in the art of being busy but un the art of living. How better to live our life as artists than to see, to feel, and actually communicate those insights and feelings into our art
Robert Henri stated, “There are moments in our lives, there are moments in the day, when we seem to see beyond the usual – become clairvoyant. We reach then into reality. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom.”
A life filled with busyness will miss the moments we are meant to live and communicate in our art. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, one of the reasons I love using a view camera is because it forces me to slow down and to really look, study and determine why I am responding to what is before me and what is visible on the ground glass. Why am I drawn to this subject at just this moment, what am I feeling and how do I best capture that feeling now as an artist.
So, by all means to the tasks that come up to keep you moving forward on your artistic path. But do not mistake busyness with creating art. Live life, slow down, be still, observe life and then create the art life has brought to your view.
In closing let me leave you with one final thought. “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by Silence.” – Herman Melville