Virginia Woolf was ahead of her time when she wrote that everyone needs a room of one’s own. What you do in that room is up to you. Sometimes I simply sit and think. It has the sound of silence which is missing in so much of our lives today.
My room is filled with things which have meaning for me. There is a tiny painting a neighbor man gave me when I was eight, a larger painting which hung in my Grandma’s crowded bedroom, sn old sewing machine head made into a lamp, books on Indian crafts, more books, lots of things other people might have thrown away; my mother’s jacks, the flag they gave me at my father’s funeral, a few tiny dolls tucked on a shelf, jars of paint brushes, a pallete fo watercolor paint, a shelf of acrylic paint, stacks of canvas and watercolor paper, an old pink elephant, trunks full of photographs, and another filled with old report cards, letters, my husband’s block sweater from high school. etc. The walls are crowded with pictures; one of my Tai Chi class, another of a tap dancing class, a family portrait of my best friend’s family. Things that I have made and things others have given me. Looking at what I have written it seems like a chaotic mess but everything is connected to another, and together they form a pattern to my life.
The room of one’s own is special because no one can predict what you may do in it. Various rooms are meant for certain activities, ie the kitchen is not where you sleep and vice versa. Living rooms don’t seem to attract a lot of attention these days, and not a lot of people have actual dining rooms. But the room you have chosen to be your room doesn’d come with a label, it’s a place to let your imagination run wild.
When we lived in Connecticut as a child, there was an old abandoned house next door which I used as a playhouse. I spent hours there making up games, arranging found objects into decorations. In retrospect, the house was an early example of the nesting instinct. I do think some things just come naturally. The old house was my first expression of free will. It was uninhibited imagination, or creativity, if you will.
What is creativity anyway? Is is a conscious pre-planned activity which results in something new and possibly wonderful? Or is it a spontaneous gathering of grey matter suddenly colliding? Some of the most fun pieces I have made came about by accident. During a process of “one thing led to another”. On the other hand, some of the pieces which were planned with deep emotion were never what I called “creative”.
As a child, Grandma insisted that I was “gifted”. What did that mean to a child? A gift was something current and profitable. I had received neither. I was given singing and dancing lessons because Great-Aunt Corinne was a well-known opera singer in Canada, which stood to reason that the talent was in the genes. It wasn’t. The houses I drew in school were shown to the class because they not only had the correct number of windows and doors and chimneys, but I had drawn people on mine. I obsessively copied the faces of movie stars from the movie magazines. Nothing creative about that; in both cases a matter of good observation.
I have become complacent these days and have stopped waiting for that A-Ha moment, when I have accidentally dropped a blob of paint where it shouldn’t be, and it makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it before?
One’s imagination is like any other muscle; it needs to be exercised or it will rust. The room of my own enables me to exercise a certain amount of that muscle. Sometime it may become a great notion.