It was the last day of the College Art Association conference in Washington DC and I was beat.
I’d spent weeks preparing for it. And then 4 long days either in meetings or chasing more meetings. I’d attended sessions, made new contacts, and talked to dozens of artists about their practice.
It was a fabulous time, and a very successful conference. I’d learned that I’m not the only one concerned about the professional prospects of graduating art students. That many others are working behind the scenes to improve the plight of those of us who live from our creativity.
But it was exhausting. And I was afraid to admit that if I heard the word “art” one more time, I might just weep.
24 hours until my flight home.
My soul cried out for help. I needed to be saved from my very own work ethic.
I needed to be saved from that voice that begged me to keep going, even though I felt drained. The voice that urged me to visit just one more gallery, one more art museum, schedule one more meeting.
NO! I just couldn’t do it.
But then I found myself wondering, “What would be … FUN?”
I’d heard that there were simulated roller coasters in the basement of the Smithsonian Museum. I couldn't resist. So off I went to join 2700 twelve-year olds on the rides.
We’d no sooner finish screaming our way through one ride and then race back in line to do it all over again. I laughed myself silly, oblivious to the stares of the staff. The kids too, eyed me suspiciously at first, but soon respected me as one of their own.
I rode those coasters until the museum closed.
I was still smiling as I made my way back to the hotel, using my camera to chase the golden light and soft shadows that the setting sun cast over the DC streets. It was magical to be engaging with my own creativity again.
Back at the hotel, I asked myself once more, “What would be fun?”
I ran a bath using ALL of the bubbles, like the whole bottle. And then I luxuriated in the decadence with a wee bottle from the mini bar.
The next morning was all mine too. “What SHOULD I do?” is the question I always ask automatically upon waking.
But that voice had already been silenced. And my imagination ran riot with all the fun things one could do in Washington DC on a Sunday morning.
So I made my way to an African Gospel church and introduced myself at the door. They greeted me warmly, walked me to a pew front and center, where they treated me as an honored guest.
Never mind that I’m not a member of their faith, nor any faith. Never mind that I was the only white face in a sea of black. Never mind that my blue jeans clashed with their finery. Never mind that I can’t carry a tune nor keep a beat.
For the next 2½ hours, I danced.
I sang. I swayed. I prayed and threw my arms up in the air shouting AMEN!
And as the choir belted out their hymns, and as the congregation rocked, and as the preacher whipped us into a frenzy with his sermon, the woman next to me shouted, “Sister, I ask you - are you saved?”
And I cried out, “HALLELUJAH! I am now!”
So now, I ask YOU a question.
What could you do, right now, today, that would be FUN?