The Increment is All


Creators can be such fucks. Letting their minds move imagined mountains into the paths of their work and play. The big mind, the one that dreams and stops your body with mouth-open distant gaze longing – that is really the fuck. As much as it can be your guide and your companion, it can also be the extra chef in the kitchen trying to add more salt, when you know things just need to simmer.

It needs to be left out of the room when the work is at hand.

This today, that tomorrow – it is so easy to come up with ideas and float them across your brain/sketchbook/canvas. So much to follow up on, explore, and play with. Ideas are everywhere, like a sky of stars or a fast flowing river to drink from. Ideas in paint tend to ask a lot of you, they take up your time – being very needy and greedy  – and we know from many sources that time is rather limited.

You want to be and explore as much as you can. An explorer of vast territories of thought and possibility. Finding under imagined stones, unimagined universes and so on and so on. But amid all those ideas and directions are the seeds (or sometimes full-blown shrubbery) of worry and doubt.

The worry becomes spending too much time in disparate places. You never know which direction will be the most fruitful for you, and there are so many possible directions to choose from. If you run too far one way, will you know how to get back and continue from where you left off? And if you don’t run with it? Will it go away and leave, never to return, and never to visit when you are lonely with distraction?

Or, is that idea even you? Or that idea of you that you hold and wish to present to everyone? That thought, that image, the one you decided is how you are or wish to be perceived. Is the thing you are working on right now the work you are meant to be working on right now?

The answer to all the worry is, I think, to embrace the increment. The slow, un-sexy, steady, heady increment of forward progress. Each step, each day, each drawing, each brushstroke, a breath, and each breath a moment of reflection. You stay moving, but avoid the big view, staying away from the river while you focus on what is in your hands. It’s one step to one step, with no concern for the landscape beyond the reach of that step.

The increment lessens the worry and keeps you focused. The increment is following gravity in an arc toward synthesis and cohesion. One step in front of the other, until it forms a slow dance with idea around the floor of your work. Perhaps the only way to truly get anywhere.