For many, January is not an easy month.
Type “January Blues” in an Internet search engine and you’ll get digital pages on the subject. According to the experts at the top of the algorithm, January Blues is anything from a “dip in positivity” to a critical health issue that requires the expertise of more experts to manage (since overcoming or solving problems, in the world of experts, is rarely an option).
Commonsense, however, and when we choose to use it, tells us that January will be rough because it comes on the heels of the holidays. In a normal world, we’ve just experienced weeks of bright lights, good cheer, and families and friends getting together to eat, play games, exchange gifts, and generally experience joy and acceptance in one another’s presence.
Often during the holidays, we set aside various issues and challenges for the future – January – and when January comes, well, those various issues and challenges are waiting for us. Oh, joy.
All Problems Have Solutions
Okay, so that’s the problem, but all problems have solutions. The first step to achieving any solution is serious thought, and for opportunity to think and reflect, January positively glows.
There is time, quiet, and solitude. In the northern climes, weather is generally hostile to active gardening or sun bathing, so we’re inside. And if we eschew the TV, phone, or screen of any sort (if you want to make a New Year’s resolution, this is a good one), we take advantage of that time, quiet, and solitude to think, contemplate, meditate, plan, innovate, and even create.
And here’s where art comes in. If you’ve got a work of art on your wall, January invites you to brew a cup of something hot, snuggle up in a chair, behold the artwork, and ponder. We had a client once who wrote us about a painting she bought:
“I hung the artwork in my bedroom. In the morning, I bring my coffee there and contemplate the piece while I sip. Throughout the day, I stop what I’m doing, sit on the bed, and look at the scene. In the evening, before I go retire, I look again, and think. This has brought me great peace.”
Art Promotes Pondering
Aside from being the client from paradise, this intelligent thinker has discovered that two-dimensional visual art, unlike TV sitcoms, talk talk “news” analysis, “reality” fare, and made-for-the-moment dramas, allows the mind time to ponder, uninterrupted by commercials, proselytizing, and propaganda.
Art inspires thinking. Thinking is a crucial element to freedom. And freedom is a worthwhile pursuit every month of the year. Why not start with January?
And while we’re at it, let’s go back to that coffee cup. Three-dimensional functional art – as in pottery, for example – is also a means to contemplation and thought. There is pleasure in holding something that human hands have crafted, stimulation to the mind through touch. Brewing hot fare and pouring it into a beautiful mug is a self-directed, mini-ritual that slows us down, and slowing down is the first step to thinking. You can’t think deeply when you’re multi-tasking.
And don’t stop with the cup. Another artisan means of slowing down is the humble candle – timeless technology perfect for January’s early dark days. You don’t have to get into a lotus position and chant om to reap benefits from the candle’s light. Just bask in its glow.
As we think more, as we ponder and contemplate, we begin to find that we want to express what is going on in our heads. Communication, after all, is not the exclusive province of those who can afford to buy the airwaves and the publishing companies. Expression of thought is necessary for individual and societal health.
It Feels Right to Write
Some people blog. Others keep diaries. Still others – rare gems indeed – write notes and cards. As with the pottery mug, art cards and hand-crafted journals are tactilely pleasurable to use, adding to the experience.
And before I leave this essay, let me put in a word for jigsaw puzzles. If you want to break the worry, angst, anxiety, frenzy, and fear that will gladly be our Normal if we let them, spend an hour each evening putting little pieces of random-cut cardboard together. The act of concentrating on something that ISN’T chronically agitating is calming. Calm is good.
Art is good. All these elements – paintings, prints, pottery, candles, cards, journals, jigsaws – we have at the gallery, and we invite you to take one of these January days to step into a warm, bright place and just look at the array of beauty that individual humans create.
Creativity is an essential element to be human. And we create because, first, we think. Take advantage of January, and allow yourself time and place and scope and freedom to think.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.