Originally from the South, I have had politeness bred into me. Its just part of the culture below Richmond, VA. Whether it be the traditional finger wave from the steering wheel when passing another car or a simple waiting your turn in what should be a zip line with merging traffic. If you're waiting for the slow driver to move over into the right lane from the left, you may be waiting awhile, though. Imagine my transformation upon our move to Northern Virginia where everyone is going 100 miles an hour & always in hurry. Pair that with many people who simply don't know how to drive and you have the potential for some hairy situations on the roadway. Now, I can flip someone off just as quickly as the rest of them. I do my best thinking in the car, though, and as I had my daily near death experience on I-495 (as much as part of my routine as my morning coffee) - I got to thinking about my art. You may ask, "What does traffic have to do with art?" Well, plenty- let's proceed. Feel free to apply this to almost any facet of your life.
1. WATCH YOUR BLIND SPOTS:
You can't just merge into any lane at any time and even our rear view mirrors have blindspots. Before changing lanes or altering your course, check your blindspots! Not only is this handy for avoiding sideswipes in traffic but critical in avoiding mishaps in your career. Is there something I'm not seeing fully? Is something clouding my vision that I simply can't see. In a vehicle, we can look over our shoulders, but in my art I rely on those closest to me to help me with my blindspots. My support network gives me perspective that I may not have seen on my own. Even taking some time and really thinking about something before jumping can be a way of "checking my blindspot." It really helps avoid accidents in both arenas. We all have blind spots, whether it be personal bias, hangups or simply a large passenger in our front seat.
2. WATCH OUT FOR OTHERS:
I have a bit of anxiety around motorcycles on the road. I get feelings of maternal protection when around them in traffic. I'm fussing at people who get too close to them - I'll even fuss at them for driving too recklessly or fast. I become my 90 year old grandmother, "You whippersnappers better slow down!" -I think to myself. I really don't want to see anyone hurt like that. We should look out for people around us on the road. It helps everyone avoid an accident (aka a standstill 45 min podcast session on I-95) and get where we are going. I apply this to my own interaction with other artists. It's important to protect my fellow artists & build them up. You reap what you sow & if you build up those around you instead of pushing past them then we'll all get to where we are going faster & safer.
3. GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF SPACE:
I am an introvert. I really wish that I wasn't but I am. I need time and physical space to feel happy, fulfilled & have energy to be creative. In traffic, we really should be giving each other space (remember the 3-second rule from driver's ed?) to avoid collisions and accidents. When I have space I am calm and can handle just about anything. If I don't have it, I start to feel like a caged rabid raccoon that is capable of hurting someone if you don't let me out. Create space for yourself so you can create something else!
4. BE ATTENTIVE & PRESENT:
My flightiness has got me into trouble on more than one occasion. If I'm daydreaming, distracted or even worse texting when I should be driving, I'm a road hazard. In the same way, I have to be attentive & present when I sit down at the easel. I can't be thinking about what I'm cooking for supper that night or the argument I had with the hubby. All distractions will cloud your mind and put up barriers to your creativity. There are many times when multitasking is called for, but with my art I am slowly learning that focus is the key. To be focused, I have to be mindful, present & attentive.
5. KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING:
This actually plays into the attentive and present section regarding focus, but everyone knows that if you don't know where you're going you'll never get there. When I first moved to Northern Virginia, I had a cell phone holder installed on my dashboard, so when I was mapping my routes here & there - I could see the map on my phone's GPS app. Drive and talent are not enough, you must have a goal. Some fellow ladies who are in an entrepreneur group I occasionally visit urged us to have that "Big, Hairy, Scary Goal." The one that is seemingly impossible to achieve that will drive our efforts and give us focus. Once you know where you are going - your goal- you can GPS your location, make a map, make a plan. It lets you avoid road blocks and accidents by showing alternative routes. That's what I'm trying to implement into my art practice; focus, goals and plans. HOPEFULLY, this will allow me to see opportunities or obstacles when they arise and to be able to adjust my plans accordingly. Thank you Northern Virginia traffic for your continual inspiration and life tips......