A quiet spell

Solitude shows us what we should be; society shows us what we are.
—Robert Cecil

journal page

Well, I’m back…

When I said it would be quiet around here for a while, I had no idea just how quiet it would get. Not only have I not been able to use my laptop or get online because I can’t power my laptop, but during the Easter weekend my registered domain name expired, and my blog was replaced by one of those scary generic pages that are the internet equivalent of a tombstone…

“Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here to see if the earthly remains of smallestforest.net will be available for purchase soon… (Dies iræ! Dies illa!)”

It was a bit chilling.

But this has actually been a welcome hiatus. Like a detox for the spirit. I never really realized how much time I spent on my laptop, how much of what I do is subconsciously being auditioned as ‘material’ for this blog, nor how much of my week is spent taking and fixing up the photos, or  putting the words together for it. The biggest revelation of all, during the past weeks’ internet abstinence, is that around 90% of what I do online is expendable…in real terms, my life gains so little from all these activities, that it’s not such a big loss when the whole system drops out.

Not only did life go on—minus the internet, minus smallestforest.net, minus e-mails, minus desktop applications and my entire music collection—but it seemed to get more real. I went to a smattering of exhibition openings (I even bought a small illustrated tattoo at Emily Hearn’s Taste of Ink exhibition…Yay!), ferried a new friend over to the boat for an afternoon of art talk, took long aimless walks from Dinah Beach to the esplanade in Fannie Bay just to sit and gaze at the boats in the harbour for half an hour, did stuff in my art journal, worked on embroidery projects, did a couple of paintings, made some air-hardening clay figures on which to draft patterns for some softies I want to make, wrote an amazing 38 pages (!) in my journal, and scribbled so many creative ideas down in my seedbook that I would need to hire a small team of people to carry them all out in this lifetime.

The internet can inspire, no doubt about that; there is so much wonderful stuff on here to fuel the fires of making and doing. But it can also overwhelm me to the point where I am paralyzed, addicted to looking and bookmarking, and if I didn’t regulate it, I might spend more time looking for inspiration, and not enough time alone with my own creativity and a tool in my hand! One of the most productive periods of my life was when we were living in a shack on a remote beach in a very undeveloped part of the Philippines. We had no electricity, didn’t own a laptop, there was no internet, no mobile phone, not even a small crappy camera! Yet Kris and I could barely keep up with all the ideas we were getting for things to build, make, design, paint, or do. It seemed that the more we drew from the well, the faster it filled.

And while I enjoy my laptop, camera, the internet, and a hot shower (!) now that I have all these things, it is really comforting, and empowering, to know that I didn’t need it to have ideas or make beautiful things, didn’t need it to feel like I was among the happiest people on earth, and that everything could be taken away from me, tomorrow, and life would go on, as vivid and rich as ever.


16 thoughts on “A quiet spell

  1. I am glad to see you back as well although I can indeed relate to the time and creativity zapper the Internet can be… I find there are a few people I go to on a regular basis to re-energize and your blog is one of them. So at least I am glad to know you are well and that everything is ok. I worried that maybe something had happened given some of the weird weather and other oddities of that part of the world… I think it is great you found such creative energy when you were unplugged. Perhaps that is something I should be doing as well… Looking forward to see where your next creative journey takes you!


    1. Thanks, Rhoz, very flattered that you read this! Oh my, it’s one thing to write for “xx amount of subscribers” and it’s another to know the individuals who read regularly, makes me feel slightly nervous, but also deeply honored. A reminder, too, that although the internet as a system is just cables and signals, there are real people at the other end of the line, and that makes all this blogging and computer time seem less of a time-waster, more like a vocation. 😉 The weather is turning quite beautiful, winter is coming. See you around!


  2. I’m so glad you’re finally back. Was selfishly afraid you had decided to abandon the blogging timesuck in favor of actually going places and doing things. I know I’m a bit addicted to the internet, but hey! — I’m here in a suburban wasteland of vinyl houses and barking dogs!! I NEED my Natalie and sharonb and flickr and pinterest…….

    38 pages!!!!! Can’t wait to see what’s coming next. 🙂


    1. LOL I may do that yet, one day, but nah, this is fun and there are such lovely people on here! *whispers* I’m addicted to the internet, too. But I try to keep it within some sort of sane limit… ha ha ha, so much pressure to write posts, sharonb’s so much better at this sort of thing…
      Thanks for the lovely comment, I’ll try to write again soon.


  3. Hi, found your site cool work.
    I was wondering if you could help me find any bookbinders/bookartists in the Philippines. I have the chance to visit at the end of the year….


  4. Hi, Found your site.. nice work.
    I have the chance to go to the Philippines later in the year. I have been trying to get in touch with bookbinders and book artists there, without much luck. I was wondering if you new of any and if so, if you would not mind letting me have details or passing mine on.

    Thanks for your time,



  5. It’s comforting to have experience to prove that our life continues unspoiled and sometimes enhanced by the loss of things we think we rely on.
    That said, I’d hate to have to do without hot baths!


    1. It certainly was! I actually love an icy shower, but then I have lived all my life in the tropics, so it is never that bad. If I was in the UK I’m sure I’d be singing a different tune.


  6. I agree that getting away from the “conveniences” of life may be the best thing to get the creative juices flowing again. I’ve now come against a writer’s block, so I’m going to (try and) unplug myself from the TV and internet, take a few walks and explore. Thanks for the inspiration.


    1. Thank you! I am a conflicted creature. This blog is my therapy and my nemesis. I was admiring your hand-drawn characters a few hours ago. I love that Eddie Murphy is a devil named Jello. 🙂


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