Sometimes artistic productivity needs a break. Sometimes the wheel you are running on needs some oil, and you need to sit in the car dealership waiting room with an instant coffee and a good book. Better yet, sometimes you need to look at the fish.
After a week of writing four more poems for my new poetry collection, written especially for children, (this will probably take me a year to finish) and after designing three new necklaces to restock the local gallery that sells my work, I did exactly this – stare at some fish, some ducks with their ducklings and some floating lily pads. It was a delicious two hours, well spent.
It was the second to last day of school, and I wanted to treat my sons to a scoop of gelato after a blazing hot afternoon at Games Day. After having our refreshing, creamy cups of pure indulgence, I asked the boys to sit with me under the gazebo. The boardwalk proved more interesting, so we walked out onto the dock and looked in the water for any swimming creatures. We found fish! In fact we found many, many fish of all sizes swimming alone and in schools. We followed them along the dock, found more fish and kept walking together to the very end, where the warping planks of wood were in danger of being completely submerged by water.
We came across a family of ducks - two parents and two ducklings. My youngest said, “they are just like us – a family of four.” He kept repeating this statement in amazement, and when he saw one of the ducklings swimming too far away from its mother to eat some algae, he said, “swim back to your mommy, little ducky.” He held my hand when he said this, then promptly jumped on top of a big rock at the edge of the water, his sneakers teetering. I raised my eyebrows.
On the slow walk back, we saw a small, green fish with a long, flat snout that would rise slowly and then jump out of the water to eat a bug on the surface. My older son declared a finding, and asked if he could name this new species. He wanted to claim it as his own, if it was indeed a brand new kind of fish. Is there anything new in this world anymore? Looking into the eyes of my eager son told me that there are still new things to be found, if we choose to believe.
In the coming weeks, I intend to use the word “vacation” as an action verb and do it with gusto. I intend to embark on and enjoy little adventures every day with my two young sons, now that school is out for the summer. I intend to make every day count and not fret over whether I am producing enough new writing, because the productivity frenzy of energy that often comes over me will return in the quiet moments in between our grand adventures.
Sometimes you just need to look at the fish. Inspiration comes from everywhere and from nowhere. Never underestimate the white space. Keep looking at the fish.
Cristina M. R. Norcross