I have picked up my colored pencils again. A few years ago I remembered how much bliss I’d experienced as a child with my color-by-number books. My parents bought the really nice ones with the detailed color charts. I would spend hours coloring, watching the elegant scenes emerge, segment by segment and shade by shade.
So, decades later, I invested in some decent pencils and found coloring books online that featured various mandala patterns. I began to color while sitting with my husband in the evenings, usually when watching television. After a certain point, the mind just doesn’t function well, so there’s no point in reading or trying to be “productive.” And as an editor and writer and I work with words all day long, all week long, all year long. I needed to get away from words.
The results were truly satisfying. In a few months’ time, I’d colored through three entire books of mandalas. Because visual art is not my area of expertise—not even an area of experience—I felt no pressure to be good at it. For an hour or so most evenings I allowed myself to linger in the right side of my brain, playing with colors and patterns.
If our lives are to be creative, we must learn how to shift modes. When we are weary of analytical work, it’s time to do something free-style and imaginative. When we have taken our imaginations to a point of weariness, it’s time to get structure by sorting out a closet or finding another activity that gives our left brains some work to do. One task for the creative person is learning how to nurture her creativity, and shifting gears, modes, places, and emphases is part of that.
Now I am editing full-time and attending seminary part-time: a life chock-full of words and ideas. So it’s time to locate my scattered pencils, sharpen them, and buy some new pages to color. Also, I see in my near future trips to the movie theater and Art Institute. What a lovely, diverse world it is.