I’ve just returned from completing a residency at an artist colony, and I am amazed at how much I was able to accomplish when the distractions of everyday life were not present. No teaching, no cooking, no shopping, no housework, no phone calls, no childcare, limited e-mail—all in the company of people whose only purpose, for the moment, was to make something. As a result some of the “normal” social niceties were blissfully not required—excusing yourself from dinner, for example, as everyone assumed you needed to return to the studio. Occasional brief readings, open studios, composer listening sessions, and quick games of ping-pong added richness and inspiration to the stillness.
Subtracting and adding these elements made for a rare state of being, in which all there was to do was to imagine and create. It made me wonder about how much creativity is out there that simply can’t find the time and space to flourish. My life is, frankly, relatively easy compared to many others—but so many of us are so exhausted from the complexities of life, and we bring that exhaustion to our creative lives, which in the end feel shortchanged as a result.
Of course, in the end it also is true that the experience of family, friends, and life in general feeds our expression. But I so wish that the kind of time I just experienced could be available to all of us regularly. What music will we never hear because this is not the case? If we all had this time, how much better could the quality of cultural life in the United States be?