I was talking to someone a while a go about that feeling – the one where somehow everything aligns. It's not about skill or perfection and it's not about any specific action or measurable outcome. It doesn't happen very often, is completely unpredictable and it can be really fleeting but it is an amazing, indescribable sense of invincibilty and cohesion and connection and everything just fitting together and working.
During that same conversation I mentioned that - outside of my art work – the only other time I remember feeling it was when I played the violin as a child. It was a bit of a shock when I said this as it wasn't something I'd consciously thought about before. I only played for a few years, I wasn't very good and I don't remember when or where it happened (but I do remember it happening). It must have actually been the first time I experienced it. I stopped playing at 11 (I felt my time was better spent concentrating on boys :)) but as a result of that conversation I started playing again about 6 months ago. It seemed to me I should have as many things in my life as possible that had the potential for putting me in that place.
The flip side of being 'in the zone' is being completely out of it – feeling disjointed and seperate and everything seeming pointless and puerile. An overwhelming feeling that it is impossible to move forward because there are too many options at exactly the same time as there are none. A place I currently inhabit art wise. I know objectively this is temporary and I will find a way through (and I know it will happen again at some undeterminable point in the future) but subjectively it seems like this time it is never ending. All the normal strategies I have honed over the years for moving forward haven''t helped.
What is helping is playing the vioin. I'm finding it difficult, really difficult. I can't remember anything from when I played before. I am struggling to get a feeling of connection with the violin, the bow and the music. My timing is terrible. I am overthinking, over analyzing, getting distracted, feeling frustrated and expecting too much too soon. I shake intermittently for no reason (not in a good, vibratto way), find it difficult to play in front of anyone (including my music teacher), find it impossible to stand still and pull some really weird faces! I don't think I'll be playing anything even remotely decent for a very, very long time and my fingers are really, really sore. Yet I am also really, really enjoying it, look forward to my lessons, love practising and feel really positive about finding ways to tackle all of the above (albeit slowly).
There is obviously a difference between my art and playing the violin. Being an artist is part of who I am, it's like breathing – playing the violin is something I do, so it isn't as important to me. Some of the things which are stopping me moving forward and progressing are the same though whatever I am doing and I am recognising that maybe I need to stop thinking for a bit and just do.