I went to Milan for an artist residency a few years back and was assigned this small, completely bare studio space in the Fabricca del Vapore. No desk, no chair, no lamp. Nothing. The room’s other defining feature was a window that faced the road which, being on the ground floor, had bars on it. So there I was in my creative crucible/cell, just me and my neuroses with no distractions. Travelling from Australia I didn’t bring any materials other than my sketchbook and my camera, but on this occasion, I tossed a rubber ball into my purse at the last minute. Every morning I would go to my cell, contemplate, and bounce this ball around.
Finding this video on my hard drive in April of 2020 during the peak of the Covid-19 crisis in Italy, was poignant. I reflected on all the people of Milan, quarantined in their homes, simultaneously going stir crazy, contemplating their lives and dealing with the untimely death of so many loved ones. It’s a terrible feeling to be trapped and out of control.
It was therapeutic to connect these two moments with compassion. The video made me remember that we only have influence over our situation in the moment. It’s crazy making to worry for the future and equally useless to be caught in nostalgia or regret for the past. Paying attention to the present moment is the only way to maintain sanity in a wildly fluctuating landscape. Pay attention. Grasp and release.
So many lessons in this simple action.