Did you miss me? Did you even know I was gone? I’m hoping you didn’t notice
I’m hoping you didn’t notice, but I have basically been a housebound invalid since Friday, March 17. We had planned a family trip back to Ohio that had to be canceled and, instead, I have spent these last few weeks moving painfully from chair to chair and doctor to doctor.
What happened? Sciatica, for the most part. I’ve never experienced this before and certainly never want to experience it again. While I am somewhat better now, I am still not 100%. Standing or walking for more than a few minutes is nearly impossible, so I have spent the days sitting — and posting to the blogs, but not much else. While I am improving, I am still not “better.” Right now I feel like it is going to take at least another week before I approach “normal” again.
Pushing through the fog…or getting lost within it
That said, this isn’t about being ill. Rather, I have been having thoughts about how to be creative while being ill. I will be the first to admit it is really difficult. Most of my output has been curated posts from other sources, photographs from the archives and such. When your mind is addled with pain it often can’t think much about anything else. It tends to push out other thoughts, distract you from reading or actively, physically creating, but it can also give you time to think and create mentally by forcing your STOP and heal. It is amazing what thoughts and ideas can come to you when you simply can’t do much else.
Looking back over these last 2 weeks, I think I have generated some interesting ideas that I can start to work on once things get a little bit better. That helps to give me some extra motivation to get better, even I can’t really do much about it. That is a reality about life in general, actually. We often come up with ideas when we have no time or energy to put them in motion. This is why it is so important to capture any and all ideas you have when they occur, so you can go back and “mine” them later. Don’t let ideas get away. You might never get them back. Sure, you’ll collect a lot of ho-hum ideas, but scattered among them could be your next great project.
On some days, though, as it was earlier this week, there is no possibility of pushing through the fog. All I could do was let myself get lost within it. Sleep is one of the best ways to heal, so I took advantage of it whenever I could. As almost always happens, though, sleep bring odd dreams, thoughts, fleeting images and more. Use them. You may have no idea why you were dreaming about far-flung planets, weird animals, odd situations and more, but you might be able to use this different frame of mind to find a new path into your creativity. I know it’s not fun, but there is some solace in making use of something that is otherwise quite annoying and traumatic.
A good distraction
If nothing else, looking to your creativity during an illness can help provide a small distraction from the day-to-day grind and boredom that quickly sets in. I have found great solace in being able to, at least, sit at the computer comfortably and engage in my typical day-to-day work. It has given me a few moments without thinking about the pain — at least until I need to move somewhere else. Small favors are better than none, though.
What distractions can you give yourself when you are ill? Is there a small “lap-sized” project you can start or finish. Can someone help bring your painting supplies closer to your chair so you can paint a little when you have the energy and attention? You might find yourself creating something entirely different from your usual work. You changed mental state is sure to effect your output. I know I have certainly been having different thoughts and ideas over the last 2 weeks. Some good. Some bad. Some weird, but all useful.
So the next time you are laid up, like I am, help yourself heal by staying creative and keeping an active mind, even if your body is still. There is often very little you can do to heal, but you can, at least, try to keep your mind, your creativity, your productivity ticking along as best as possible. I think it is as important to your healing as a good night’s rest. I’ll let you know how it works for me in the coming weeks.