by Liz Clayton Scofield
Wandering, a creative process, when in a year, you double the times you’ve moved in a lifetime, you wonder if it will just keep going like this, that your feet are already itching to wander and you realize you’re distracting yourself from breathing and taking in the mountains, the green expanse that leaves you breathless, and you wonder
you fell in love again on the drive here, and you wandered around a big-box store dragging your fingertips over objects you won’t buy but eventually someone else will, when they end up on the “priced to sell!” clearance shelf:
“you will have a home one day,” I whisper to the toilet paper as I reject it.
I spent 2017 wandering. I spent 2017 learning to wander. I lived in Atlanta, Wilmington, Ashland City, and Baltimore, for varying lengths of time. Home became a shell on my back, a state I took with me. I became of the world, in the world, detached but connected.
In Atlanta, I learned to be alone. I’d bike aimlessly, wander around the outdoor shopping mall or IKEA or East Atlanta Village on a Friday night, rub up against the energy of others, swimming in their presence but removed, to learn to be permeable and present. In Wilmington, I wandered into a pack of artists where I found love, support, and exchange, through community and art. I found my way back to Tennessee and found an entirely new way to live: working on a farm, living in a tiny house, breathing in the trees on a hillside, and sitting in the quiet, alone in a radically different way.
January 1, 2018, marked the end of my year of wandering. I signed a lease and moved into an apartment in Baltimore. My year of wandering led me here: seeds of love, art, community caught up in a gust, drifted away to a city I’d never even been, and planted, sprouted some magic beanstalk. And here I am. To rest and root and wander on, all the while.
Capitalist notions of productivity teach that action leads to product. For artistic production, this could mean labor(skill/“craft”) x time = product, where labor is a visible and quantifiable expression of action.
Wandering is a radical act of defiance against notions of productivity. Wandering is the liminal space of an artist’s (i.e. everyone’s) Real-Work, which is unquantifiable, invisible Magic: the beautiful mystery in finding Meaning through Meaninglessness. Wandering is the creative practice of Finding-Truth-When-Not-Looking- For-It, of Seeing-The-World-In-New-Ways, and Learning-Yourself/Becoming-Your-Best-Self. After all, isn’t this the artist’s (i.e., everyone’s) work?
Wandering is aimless, but not without aim. Set forth on some path, always subject to change, and continue: one foot in front of the other. Or: turn off all the lights and sit in a chair or on the floor in your home or someone else’s, close your eyes, and let your thoughts drift like clouds. Identify them as some animal and release them. No need to become attached to any particular Cloud Animal. They continue their infinite process of drifting and dissipating, equal in their states of Mattering/Not-Mattering.
Wandering isn’t productive and yet is the most productive use of an artist’s (i.e., everyone’s) time.
Wandering takes time. It is not the most efficient process to reach any particular outcome, but it is a process, and it does have outcomes.
Wandering is not the direct route. It isn’t even a route. It just gets us somewhere, the places we never expected to go but needed to find ourselves all along or eventually or whatever, whenever.
Wandering is riding a bike through a city, familiar or new, no maps but random turns, to find anywhere, somewhere, to stop and see, in a way you’ve never seen before, to feel a place, to get lost and find your way back, somehow.
Wandering is wide-awake-howl-at-the-supermoon-at-midnight, alert, aware, and wondering, holding it all in a breath while letting go in an exhale, loving wholly with bright eyes. One. Foot. In. Front. Of. The. Other.
I offer these words as an introduction to what will now be an ongoing conversation: Pocket Lint, the ball of dust and fabric and little imaginings stuck deep in my pocket that I rub together between the tips of my fingers. The friction of magic, or at least the imaginings of magic: the electric impulses in the brain that trigger something like art, something like magic, something like love, and something, anything, nothing at all.
Welcome to Pocket Lint. These musings are documents of wandering: discoveries made while walking around a new city, or, getting lost in cracks in walls, or, singing softly to the moon at 2:00 a.m., or, staring into love’s eyes. Wandering, wondering, falling in love 10,000 times a day along the way. I’m looking forward to this journey with you.
ARTIST BIO:Liz Clayton Scofield is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, thinker, all-around adventurer, and nomad. They hold an MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington. See their art at www.lizclaytonscofield.com.