selah


Tomorrow, we go home from our holidays.

It’s been a joyous, peaceful, long overdue and very much needed break for husband and I. A little over a week kicking back on the Gold Coast, gazing at this:

Yes, this was directly in front of us morning, noon and night.
Photo by Louise Mathieson.

As you can imagine, I’d rather stay a little longer… ah, well. We’ll be coming back! Hopefully sooner than later.

No, it wasn’t this much. Just felt like it…
Luggage by Rob Faulkner (CC BY 2.0)

On Monday morning, with the inevitable “there’sonlyacoupledaysleftbettermakethemostofit” mental loop kicking in, I looked round the apartment and realised there was, actually, no way I could do all the things I’d fondly thought I might do this holiday. Now, I am usually a spartan packer when travelling for work or by plane, but when holidaying and/or driving, I drop the other end of the seesaw and lavishly overcompensate.

I’d spent a large portion of the morning snoozing on the couch, then the rest feeling guiltyish that I wasn’t doing any of the things. Eventually we went out for lunch and spent an afternoon wandering round HOTA (Home Of The Arts), a vibrant hub for all things creative on the Gold Coast. It was superb, especially their Gallery.

In the back of my mind, I’d been pursuing a 3 way argument between FOMO-Lou (the achievement addict), Pragma-Lou (the common sense realist) and Dreamer-Lou (the hopeful idealist). FOMO whined about all the things I’d wanted to do. Pragma brutally reminded her that there are still only 24 hours in a day, and I had a significant sleep debt to catch up on. Dreamer brightly said that holidays weren’t over yet! and I wouldn’t be back at work for another week.

I told them all to shut up, I wanted to look at the art works. And what did I see first?

Richard Bell (Kamilaroi/Gurang Gurang/Kooma/Jiman):
The (Day) Dreamers, 2004
Exhibited at HOTA, Gold Coast, QLD.
Photo by Louise Mathieson.

I stood there for quite a while allowing this to resonate with me, and before any of the three voices could start up again, I heard another one deep in my being: selah.

Selah is a word often found as a kind of punctuation marker in the Psalms. It can be translated as a pause, an instrumental interlude (in a song), or my favourite, from the Amplified Bible – pause, and calmly think of that.

What was I thinking? That it was (again) time to revisit some lessons I have slowly been learning about the value of pauses. Breaks. Margin. Rest. Whitespace, to use the terminology of the inspiring and brilliant Juliet Funt. And I was thinking that less than a week ago in this very blog I had been praising the priority of imagination. And I realised (at last, Captain Obvious!) that my imagination had been sorely in need of that space.

People of Judeo-Christian faiths often use the term Sabbath for this concept. One of the larger applications for Sabbath in ancient Israel was that one year in seven was set aside for the land to be fallow, and rest from cultivation. The Israelites prepared for this by collecting extra in advance, and trusting God for a bountiful year six. From this, of course, comes the term and concept of sabbatical. (It will come as no surprise that I am not an excellent observer of the Sabbath principle, either on a micro or macro level).

As I meditated on this art work, at the gallery and through the rest of the day, I realised I needed to nourish my imagination in additional ways. Of course, inspiration is important. Reading, listening, viewing all play their part. And after that spark, you better be sure you don’t neglect the perspiration part either, if you want to make something of it. But trying to force feed my imagination 24/7 is as futile as expecting myself to eat 24/7 (well, ok, so there was that time with the chocolate biscuits…)

This tweet I’d seen doing the rounds also pinged in my memory:

My heart, soul, and mind – and therefore, my imagination – reside in symbiosis with a brain and a body. My machine needed system maintenance. And unconsciously and subconsciously, I’d been giving it that. Sleeping in, naps on the couch, gazing for long long moments at That View, eating good food, laughing, walking, doing abso-fricken-lutely nothing at times. And some reading, stitching, thinking, writing – when the machine thought it helpful.

So tomorrow, I will be heading home with books read and books unread. With projects picked at and those untouched. With clothes unworn, shows unwatched, bargains unbought. And I will not regret the empty space that has quietly stepped into their place, for it too had important things to do.

Selah.