Artist Dates

It’s a simple idea, though not so simple to enact: a date with yourself.  Julia Cameron calls them Artist Dates in her book The Artists Way. Sarah Van Breathnach calls them Creative Excursions in Simple Abundance.  Whatever they’re called, I’ve always liked the idea but had not put it into practice.  Until today.

Today I went to the museum at a local college – by myself.  I’d wanted to visit this place for quite some time, but found all sorts of reasons to put it off.  But today, the starts aligned.  Or I simply decided it was time.  And I went.

Well, it wasn’t that simple.  It would have been easier to just go home and relax in my favorite chair with my latest library find.  Or I could have used the excuse that I didn’t want to go alone.  But my inner voice said, “You know…when you do these things you’re always glad you did.  Just go.”  I even got dressed up for the occasion – I literally wore a dress, and make up, and good looking uncomfortable shoes (as any woman knows good-looking comfortable shoes don’t exist).

There are not many rules for these dates with yourself.  You don’t have to dress up.  You don’t have to go to a museum.  The only rule really is that you go alone.  And do something that you want to do.  For me, I’d noticed recently that I’ll tour all sorts of museums when on vacation, but never locally.  Why is that, I wondered? If I enjoyed art that much when I was away, why not enjoy it at home as well?  In fact, my friends say I have an alter ego that shows up when I’m on vacations and they try their best to encourage me to parade her out at home as well.  This was a small step.

I had no idea what the exhibits were in the museum when I got there.  I was sure that in whatever was there, I would find something.  Something what?  Meaningful?  Inspiring?  Thought-provoking?  I wasn’t sure.  But I just knew I’d find something.

I had a reason for going on this particular day.  There was a tour at 2pm.  I’m a big fan of tours as I enjoy hearing the background of the artist and the meaning of their works.  (Then, of course, we find our own meanings as well.)  One artist I viewed was quite the feminist.  I tried to keep my mouth from gaping open as I looked at some very provocative, controversial work of hers.  And there were at least two pieces that brought tears to my eyes.  One involved images of hearts and hands – and for reasons I can’t quite explain images of hands have always drawn me in.  The other was an immediate recognition of my own feelings, represented in a short sentence on an index card – one of a hundred or so.  The artist was depicting the contradictory advice she heard and received about relationships.  Honestly, what thirty-something woman couldn’t identify with that?

I don’t think it matters the medium, or the location.  I think in the act of having a date with yourself you’ll discover whatever was meant to come your way.  In my case, the recognition and affirmation of some thoughts I’ve been hanging onto for quite some time, a time of being among a group of strangers who share a common interest, a time of taking off on my own to see what I can see.

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