When I showed up Thursday morning to Penelope’s Earth Project class, I had no idea what to expect. I was just happy to go outside.
The project: Make a piece of art using our surroundings based on what we want or need to draw into our lives. Then record it and let it go, giving it back to the earth. Penny guided us through a short meditation and showed us some of Andy Goldsworthy’s gorgeous work for inspiration, but I wasn’t inspired. I was overwhelmed.
Others ran off to sketch their ideas and gather materials in the forest, but I wasn’t ready. I sat for a few more minutes and wrote in my journal, trying to find the right words, the one word that would inspire my piece. After filling a page with thoughts and ideas, I noticed a common theme: Light. I needed to lighten my load. I needed to lighten up.
With that in mind, I headed out into the woods to collect my art materials. I felt like a little girl, picking up pretty leaves, acorns, twigs and bark. I had no idea what I was going to do with them, and I didn’t care. I was just enjoying being there. I was on a treasure hunt. After my arms were filled with the goodies I’d gathered, I marched back to the picnic table where I’d set up my things.
In the woods, I’d envisioned something grand, something playing on the lightness of leaves, a spectrum of color and the light shining through the tree tops. But sitting there with my pile of treasures, I was blank. What am I supposed to do with all this? My head and heart were heavy with expectations.
That’s when I realized I was going against the very idea that I was trying to embrace. I was making it harder than it needed to be. I was taking the fun out of it.
I decided to spell out the word using the materials I’d found. It might not be my final piece, I thought, but it will be something, and it will be done. Then I can go back to enjoying nature again.
So I found a moss-covered log near the pathway and spelled the word out with bark, leaves, acorn tops and the help of some toothpicks. I did it as quickly as I could and without thinking too much. It was exciting and exhilarating, and it was fun. I finished it, and I felt so much better. There was a light in my step as I walked to lunch.
I didn’t end up making anything else that day. I was able to let go of my expectations for the day–and for the weekend. And I was pleasantly surprised with all the light and beauty that found me anyway.