“Hibernation is a covert preparation for a more overt action.” Ralph Ellison (from The Painter’s Keys)
It’s easy to think art just happens. An artist sits down at the easel and paint flows into something beautiful or meaningful or whatever. This hand, holding a brush, flows across the canvas and a painting appears. Presto! Maybe for some, that is what happens. For others, there may be a down time, a time to incubate ideas. What happens if that down time becomes a protracted period of hibernation? Is it time to panic and give up? Maybe go hang out on the beach for a while? What if inspiration never comes back again?
According to Brainpickings.org, downtime for inspiration incubation was necessary for poets, T.S. Eliot and Keats. The website quotes Eliot as saying, “We do not know until the shell breaks, what king of egg we have been sitting on.” It’s the sitting on the egg part that is so difficult. It could take months to develop that particular egg. Most eggs take their sweet time hatching. They won’t be hurried. They’ll hatch when they are good and ready. What can be done while the incubation is in process?
One can give in to panic or take a cue from Horton, the elephant. Give in to panic and fly off to Palm Beach to lie around on the beach like Mayzie, the lazy bird from the Dr. Seuss classic, Horton Hatches the Egg. Mayzie dumped her egg onto someone else to hatch while she played in the sun. The heck with this sitting on the egg thing! The beach is way more fun. Or follow Horton’s plan and reap the surprise of what can happen when the egg hatches. Make a choice: Mayzie or Horton? What’s it gonna be? You never know what might fly out of that egg.
Here’s Horton and his infamous egg: