“Life is not a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
So you think that finding a pair of underwear trapped in the leg of my jeans from a hurried early morning dressing session to get to a photoshoot would be the biggest sign that maybe I was a little too busy? Wrong, think again.
I am writing this post because yesterday morning I had a big scare and want to let you know how important I think it is that we all TAKE A BREAK from our daily work.
This time last year I had work, but not a lot of work. The period after Christmas was a little dead, I had only launched Diana Patient: Photography properly 4 months before and I was at the beginning of the learning process of how to run my own business.
This year it has been different. Everything has stepped up a level and while this is great I need to give myself some down time rather than seriously think about giving myself some down time.
I think more people do it than we think: place relaxation and hobbies and fun at the bottom of our priority list. It’s because we don’t see them as an essential use of our time. I know I see it as a weakness sometimes, something extra that would be ideal to do but the voice inside my head rings “Well you can’t have everything.” Such a misapplication of an actually great phrase.
So I was on the train yesterday morning on my way to a photoshoot. I had gotten up at 6am and gone to bed at 2am after a week of deadlines, early wakeup times and no weekend for about a month.
And I felt…great. Being busy, working hard haven’t ever affected me much apart from crashing asleep, feeling a bit tense, not looking great, but I like to think of myself as a tough cookie. Hardy and ready for all conditions…fool-hardy more like.
So I was on the train with all my photo gear. It was rush hour and very packed and I had to stand. I was lost in thought about the week before and whether I had efficiently used my time (I sound like a robot!) when I suddenly felt really sick. I remember thinking this is really strange and went through all I had had for breakfast that morning. Was the yoghurt off, it must have been the yoghurt I have no idea how long they have been in the fridge?, when I started to feel dizzy as well.
It all happened so fast and I kept half collapsing only to tell myself “Come on Diana, pull yourself together!” trying to stand up again and gripping on to the pole in the gangway. Then it became hard to breathe through my nose and I felt terrified.
Everything flashed through my mind. Nothing is worth it if my body doesn’t work anymore, if my mind won’t work anymore.
I wasn’t sure if I had been poisoned. Like something horrid was racing through my body turning off all the switches to every function. I started trying to think about snakes on wildlife programmes and murders in action films.
Everything is a bit of a blur and finally I found myself sitting down covered in cold sweat knowing instinctively that it was something else. I hadn’t been poisoned, I had been warned.
The photoshoot went fine. I actually got some advice from Nina, the singer I was photographing. She had had similar experiences caused by working too hard and told me something she had been told in LA by another musician: have a hobby, anything away from your work or you’ll go crazy. When he called, Adam from Wriothesley banned me from working the rest of the day, my friends told me to give ‘myself presents of relaxation’ and ‘breathe and focus on the present’.
I love my work and I am ambitious: positive things but I can’t forget why I fell in love with striving to create art in the first place. I want my life to be happy and filled with adventure and I can’t enjoy that if I don’t have the energy to take it all in. Actually taking the idea of breaks seriously can be the best thing for your career. How will I create anything that will lift people’s spirits and enjoyment of life if my own is filled with stress and my body won’t work?
So I’m going to take a stand and take a break. Who is with me?
I leave you with a word from Nina Simone: