I will now cop to spending an hour one afternoon this past summer taking pictures of this praying mantis that graced the front sidewalk. It was obviously a "she," and she was moving very slowly, as praying mantises are wont to do, even when they aren't as pregnant as she appeared to be. Besides having a huge abdomen, she was also one of the longest mantises I remember ever seeing. She was gorgeous, all subtle brown tones and elegantly armored. How could I not run for the camera? She had beautiful patterns on her gently folded wings, and the colors were so intriguing.
Here's where more practical people (or people who are gainfully employed at "real" jobs) snort and mutter something about wishing they had time to take pictures of bugs. . . and I understand why, I really do. Why do you think I waited to write this until I found out I have a full-time, outside the home, job lined up? Being a stay-at-home mom and artist is a job, but one with leeway to do things that people on the clock for the man don't have. Often, other people only see the leeway and forget about the 24/7 responsibilities and the fact that a stay-at-home parent never clocks out and leaves the job. Maybe that's too much of a tangent off of today's discussion, but believe me, it is something that crosses your mind when you're enjoying the perks of that position.
Anyway, we were talking about wasting time taking pictures of bugs, weren't we? Soon as I finished following this one around the front sidewalk, I came inside and googled "praying mantis." It has always seemed entertaining to me that insects who eat other insects would be called praying mantises when they are actually preying, but then I do love a good play on words! The "praying" obviously comes from the folded front claws and the meditatively slow movement of these creatures. In fact, one description of them likened looking into their eyes to "staring into the eyes of God."
Staring into the eyes of God is an excellent metaphor for my interaction with this praying mantis. Far as this spiritual mutt can tell, God and Nature and the Forces of the Universe are all intermingled in such a way that even this former athiest is awed by the magnitude of power embedded in all that is life. What I wish you could see in the pictures I took is the incredible depth in the eyes. It was like looking into a clear marble with millions of translucent layers, practically endless.
It took me a while to come to the conclusion that it was worthwhile to spend the last hour of that afternoon in that way, observing and contemplating with no specific goal. A long time ago, before I'd read as many bits and pieces of books about art and spirituality and such, another glass melter told me there are people who think artists fulfill the duties and responsibilities of shamans in our modern culture. If that is the case, then who better suited than the creative soul to observe, experience, and pass along the wonders of nature to the souls who don't have the leisure to do the mundane footwork? It seems appropriate that we would all have something to contribute. The people with the technical skills dedicate their time and energy to building us homes, making our tools, sewing up our wounds. . . why shouldn't those of us with a different set of time constraints be obligated contribute what we are able to glean from our interactions with nature?
Oh, and all this speculating and pontificating does not mean that people with "real" jobs aren't creative or don't enjoy nature. That's not it, at all. Many people make those things their priority during time away from work. Many people find ways to integrate the soulful with the practical. All I'm saying is that maybe artists aren't merely "wasting" time when they do things like spend an hour staring into the eyes of God, take a day to research and interpret background information for their projects, and allow their brains time to incubate ideas while physically occupying themselves with mindless tasks. Many times, those "insignificant" actions will result in a time shortcut to education or momentary enlightenment for another individual. Making those moments more accessible for everyone adds so much to our overall quality of life, don't you think? I think so, and I think that I will work harder to make other people aware of that, no matter which side of the got-time-to-waste side of the fence I am living on!
So, go ahead. "Waste" some time when you can. . . and I will thank you for it.