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  • Monique Sliedrecht

When Things Take a Turn


I was watching a Great Northern Diver the other day. Just when I would try and take a photo, it would vanish and then re-emerge somewhere else. It made me laugh to think of all that disorientation, but the bird did not seem fazed at all. It simply carried on in it’s quiet way, happy to find itself facing in another direction. It was a very peaceful day and I spent a lot of time watching that beautiful creature drift and dive with the rhythms of nature. It was a wonderful example of patience in the quest for food.


Patience is everything.


I am trying to learn this in the wake of deferring a much anticipated exhibition. Things were moving full tilt in one direction. I was sawing, hammering, painting, nailing, photographing…. and then a gradual realisation hit.

I suppose certain factors hovered in the back of my mind for a while, but I chose to ignore them, or did not really step back into the margins because of busyness or an over-optimism. When I did step into the margin and mentally walk myself through the next weeks and all that was required, I realised that unless I was to exert superpower strength, I was not going to be able to make it, or at least make it well.


So for various reasons I’ve had to defer my exhibition. It was a tough shift to make, and once made a feeling of disappointment and sense of deflation set in. It’s a bit like a holiday being cancelled. You work around it and look forward to it, imagining some of the atmosphere ahead of time, and that’s what keeps you going.

You think you’re heading somewhere and then there is a major change of plan.


In the immediate wake of my decision, when days were sunny, I set myself to working hard in the garden, getting rid of old brush and creating a large bonfire, exerting the pent-up energy I felt, which was very satisfying. With the change of the weather, came a change in mood as well. It’s easy to feel derailed, and tempting to sink into apathy and lose focus. Perhaps, in these moments,virtue must come out of necessity and the complete opposite is necessary.


Suddenly time is up and I need to use it, and use it well - not lament the turn of events, but move towards making a better show at another time in order to make sense of it all. When something disappointing happens it gets stuck in the past, but any continued movement forward will help propel in new ways. Rather than drain my resources and use up needed energy, why not take that energy and use it in positive ways? Not regretting, but moving forward with patience.


‘There is no measuring with time, no year matters, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything!’

-Rainer Maria Rilke-

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