It’s 2 a.m. and with my patient’s soft snore, the hum of the refrigerator, and Flo Rida’s GDFR as background noise, I’m coloring.
Coloring you say? Believe me, no one’s more surprised than I. There’s not one prediction in the world that would have ever convinced me that at the age of 55, my bifocals would be laboring to make sure I stayed within the lines of an abstract design.
When the adult coloring books surfaced on the market a couple of years ago, I censured them with the same level of disrespect that I have for computer games that captivate the minds and bodies of grown men. Seriously? So, you’re off work right now; you couldn’t find a more useful way to spend your time? I can’t believe there’s not a kid’s ballgame you could be coaching, or some mechanic work that could use your attention.
Yet, here I sit coloring – and periodically scanning the carpet around me for any eight-legged nocturnal nightmares.
I soothe my guilt for actually enjoying this by noting that this isn’t one of my grandchildren’s cutesy-cartoon-character coloring books with fat crayons, so it’s okay. I’m no different than an artist armed with a palette of colors and a paintbrush. Still, I wait until after my client’s wife goes to sleep before I whip out my book of designs and colored pencils. And I feel the need to justify when I tell someone “I’m sitting here coloring.”
I can just imagine my Dad staring at me in silence and scratching his head wondering why I couldn’t find something more productive to do.
Incredibly though, the back and forth or circular monotony of brightening the small spaces in these books with color, sparks my inner creative-thinking energy.
I usually keep a writing pad and pen next to me, and towards the end of the hour I usually spend coloring, I’ve either filled one back/front page of writing ideas, or in my least creative thinking moments, a grocery list.
I’ve learned over the years, that I do my best creative thinking when some part of me is moving. Running is my favorite way to drum up ideas – even more-so than walking because I’m too winded to get distracted with whatever’s happening around me. When I’m sitting, crocheting has the potential of a good creative-thinking activity for me but I prefer watching movies when I’m crocheting. (So much for thinking.)
With these adult coloring books, I’ve discovered a whole new way to not only stimulate my idea banks, but as one more activity to help me make it through the last six hours of my 12-hour shift. I carry it, along with colored pencils and a pencil sharpener in my work bag every night in case I get the urge. It’s relaxing, time-consuming, and kicks my creative thoughts into overdrive.
What more could a writer/private-duty caregiver/night-shift worker want?
So I guess I’ll keep coloring, but I’ll watch out for any signs that it’s getting out of hand. Like if I start scouting around for twice weekly wine and coloring groups. Or, if whipping out my phone to show pictures of my finished designs start outnumbering the times I show pictures of my grandchildren.