What’s Next?

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34 NIV)

Yesterday, I posted this black and white photo of my canvas, as a little April Fool’s day joke. But in reality, I was struggling with what to do next. This self-proclaimed challenge of adding an element a day to the canvas for a whole year was losing it’s charm. I had been away for a week soaking in the California sunshine, snapping photos to add to the project upon my return. I had missed the daily routine, but also savored the break. Still feeding my creative soul, but in a different way.

When we got back home, the end of March was closing in, and I had been at this challenge for ninety days.

From the beginning, this particular idea of showing up to the canvas on a daily basis reminded me of how I approach a whole new year or month or day, and even the turning of seasons. I want to know what’s next!

Over the years, I have learned to be in the moment, but when a new month approaches, I get nervous and restless. I start questioning my life’s purpose and if I’m “doing” what I am supposed to be doing. I let the questions simmer, and I toss and turn at night. And then I wake up the next day, asking these same troublesome questions.

I brew my cup of coffee and sit with the canvas. I tell the questions to take a break. I think about how each day, I do show up to the canvas and my life. And the worry doesn’t change a thing. The thing that makes a difference is acting on what is indicated.

On Thursday, I was sorting and clearing out the accumulation of paper ephemera and fodder that I had collected for future art projects. I am a collector. Each item was inspirational in the moment, but now needed to be released, to open up space for fresh energy and focus for my creative pursuits.

The same is true with my daily routine, some things were inspirational for January, February and March, but now they need to be let go. Fretting about tomorrow, and what will I “do” with my life may be useful for a few moments, but engaging in the now is what truly frees me.

I took a stack of comic papers that I was saving for someday. I ripped them into pieces and glued them to the canvas. A little bit of humor. A way to laugh at myself, and how hard I try to get it right most days.

Today, I woke up again. With coffee in hand, I began thinking about the month of April stretching out before me, allowing anxiety about the future to consume my thoughts. I gazed at the canvas. Would I get back into the daily routine, of just showing up, responding to the colors, using what was at hand to add another element.

No, I was planning ahead, wondering if I had the design right and analyzing whether the composition was leading me in the correct direction. Then I noticed something. The morning sun was adding an element to the canvas. The light was shining through parts of the painting. Mesmerized, I contemplated how I could capture this beauty.

 

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After awhile, I knew that I didn’t know how. And really, I couldn’t. A photo would have to be enough. I shared my frustration with my husband. Verbalized my angst about life and the canvas, and confessed, I just want to know what’s next.

I jumped out of my chair, and called over my shoulder. “That’s it. I know what I need to add to the canvas.” I grabbed a bottle of red acrylic ink, contemplated a couple other colors, then set them down. I knew my first instincts had been good in the past, so I committed to the red. I came back to the canvas and added the question: “what’s next?”

And I was satisfied, that my existential questions would be answered in due time.

Like probably tomorrow, when I show up to life and the canvas again, and ask the question that is indicated: “What NOW?”

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Journal Idea: Write for five minutes about “What’s NEXT” then write another five minutes about “What NOW” (Or make a collage for each of the topics)

18 thoughts on “What’s Next?

  1. I love the way you show up every single day. I love the way the light plays with the canvas and the saved epherma was fodder for the day. I love the levity of laughter that the canvas brings as it helps to alleviate the grieving over what has been covered over. Can’t wait to see what is next. Well maybe I will just savor today. Like you are teaching us to do!

  2. I saw this on FB and hopped on over. Have NO idea why these WP blogs will no longer come to my inbox. Sigh…. I really relate to this tossing and turning at night. I’ve been working by day decluttering files, and that’s a good thing. I finished the last yesterday. But, and it’s a big one, how do I integrate all my file fodder (!) into new order, new ideas, new files? I’m finding a lot of crossover stuff in my various categories, and am daunted by how to sort it all out. Much as you felt burdened by your daily challenge and let it bleed into your nights, I am challenged by what I need to accomplish here. But you remind me, that at our most confusing moments, when we let the sun shine through, we get some clues as to the what now, what next aspects of life. the other day, I actually prayed for Christ’s mind to help me re-sort and reassemble. If you will, I was praying for Sonlight. I will again today. I had actually not thought about praying, b/c cleaning out and reassembling files should be a no-brainer right? Oh, how wrong I was. I need Christ every moment of every now. I thnk we all do. Thank you for rich sharing, Kel. I always love what you have to say!
    xxoo
    Lynni

  3. Kel, what I like about the two images on the canvas (before you added the ‘what’s next?’ question) is they are both vessels, ready to hold whatever God pours in.
    At least that’s what I saw….
    Thank you for your bravery in showing us your process as well as the ‘problems’.

  4. Kel,

    Enjoyed your post. Have you thought about getting some fluorescent or Phosphorescent paint to add to the composition which might mimic that light shining on your canvas? Just a thought. Marijo

  5. I like your journaling tips. I will do that, maybe on the plane home tomorrow. It’s hard for me to stay in the moment these days and I realized as I was readiing this post, my anxiety rises when I remember oce again although i feel so young in so many ways, I have many less years to live than what I have already lived. And I keep thinking, i need to get it all done…How will I get it all done in the short time I have left. And I felt a resistance to the idea of being in the moment as I read it. Well, that is pause for stopping and inquiring more into that. Thanks for this:

    1. Carol- The dilemma of living now in the moment is a constant theme, especially as you say each day we have less years to live than before…I want to live each day to its fullest potential…resistance is a common companion for me too…but sometimes the resistance is just what I need to push to the next level of what’s next and what’s now…there’s a natural tension that leads to the actual work of creating. At least that’s how I experience it sometimes.

    2. Carol, you and I are on the same page! I, too, look at the short years left on earth and think, there’s not enough time for all the things I want to do. Perhaps in heaven we’ll be able to paint, quilt, and complete other creative projects, celebrating God’s creativity within each of us. If not, He’ll have even more fun and fulfilling things for us to do, I am sure!

  6. Very interesting artwork. This could become your favorite piece. I noticed the roll of comic pages and the news print remind me of those small LED flashlights.

    1. Thanks Cecelia! Yes it is becoming a favorite art piece…it’s very much a daily interaction and offering of creativity and real life decision making…it’s also a daily metaphor of experience…what will I offer today…my hope is that every day I add another part of myself too….I see the LED lights! Cool observation!

  7. Fabulously captured beauty of how our Creative, Loving, All-Sufficient God flows through you. Thank you for sharing this inspiring post and your art.

  8. I had the same impression as Jody, that the two shapes in the middle represent vessels. The vertical one is for receiving from God, the horizontal one for receiving from the family of God. They’re big and broad, ready to receive every good gift. Also appreciate the writing prompt. I tucked the idea inside my journal so i don’t forget! It will be interesting to discover what’s next and what now!

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