Yesterday I went on an Artist's Date*. It wasn't really planned, but finding myself at UCLA and Westwood, it just kind of evolved into one. I took some friends from church to the medical center for the wife's bi-weekly cancer treatment. Because it takes a few hours, they encouraged me to go off and do "something fun". The city can be rather intimidating. You know, traffic, congestion, students and medical personnel walking and driving everywhere. It is a challenge to get around, especially when everyone (including drivers) seem to have their eyes glued to tiny screens in their hands, oblivious to the world around them. (That is a fit subject for another blog...to come).
I dropped my friends at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center and drove to the Whole Foods on Gayley Avenue. I did some window shopping, picked up a few fun things, and then decided to buy something for lunch. Fresh sushi...salmon and avocado rolls....with a limeade vinegar drink seemed to fill the bill. I sat on at a small table with one chair on the sidewalk and watched life passing by. I thought I might feel conspicuous, but, no, no one paid any attention to me. I snapped this picture with smart phone.
When I was done, I decided to walk about a bit. I was struck by the variety of businesses there, different architectures, and the people, most with a zombie-like fixed gaze on their cell phones. But I was soaking up the environment. It was alive with an energy of activities, even though I had no idea what people were up to or where they were necessarily headed. I wondered to myself if they had any idea of where they were or where they were headed.
I decided to go to the Elysee Bakery, a place I remembered going to thirty years ago. Dessert seemed in order and this was a date with myself just to treat myself and indulge. I decided to have a vanilla eclair and just plain coffee. I told the young lady behind the counter that I used to come there occasionally in the 80's. "Have we been here that long?" she said, adding, "Will that be all?" I ordered a croissant with chocolate sprinkles to take home for breakfast.
I took my eclair and coffee and went back out to the sidewalk where I found a table on the corner in front of the bakery and sat down. I leisurely ate my treat and drank the delicious coffee. It was as good as I remembered. Again, I watched people go by. Cars and trucks and bicycles lined up at the intersection, waiting their turns to proceed. All very orderly yet seeming to verge on chaos should someone look up and realize they were missing life around them. When I was done, I went back to the car and sat a spell before going back to retrieve my friends.
It was then I realized this had been a true Artist's Date. I had taken myself out, bought myself some indulgences, and had some great inner conversation with my inner artist. It was refreshing to know I could do this. No one would point or laugh. People seem to go out with themselves all the time. The important thing was I re-discovered I enjoy my own company. That's important, especially when there isn't always someone around to do things with. Plus, when you date your inner artist, it is a romance made in the proverbial heaven.
*An Artist's Date comes from an exercise that is part of the Artist's Way, the book/recovery program written years ago by Julia Cameron. The purpose of the program is to recover you artistic nature. We all have one. Most of use stifle and/or suppress it, thus the need to recover it.