When I was a kid, I was constantly told to stop fidgeting while in school. This was something to avoid as much as possible. Then, a couple of years ago, Philippe said he saw a Kickstarter campaign for something called a Fidget Cube and that he’d sponsored it so we’d both be getting one when it was complete. My initial reaction was just, “okay,” as things like this happen all of the time in our house. But, after a few moments of pondering I followed up with, “but, what the hell is it?” He then showed me a video of the cube in action. You could click things all along its sides, roll a metal ball around and thumb wrestle a little joystick thingy on top. “So, it’s like a super enhanced stress ball?” I asked. To which he replied, “Yep!” with a victorious smile. But those little happy stress balls were squishy and soft, so I was skeptical. This one could certainly do more things, but honestly, I was still confused. I’d never been told exactly how to fidget before as it has always just come naturally to me. Then, I found a fidget spinner in my Christmas stocking. Clearly, I was being given a signal of some kind and had to stop and ponder just how fidgety I really was to inspire such gifts. In my head, it felt like I was being given the human equivalent of a dog toy.
It’s true, however, that I am a bit restless much of the day. I’ve switched to felt tip pens at work because retractable ballpoints will have me clicking them incessantly to the point of attracting stares. I tap my feet and often go into full on restless leg syndrome in meetings, but only when they are boring. The problem is, I find most meetings rather boring so it’s really most of the time. I dutifully took my little fidget cube to work with me and tried it out. It fascinated me for only a few minutes before I grew bored and placed it back in my bag. I bought a new bag recently, and when clearing out the old one I found my fidget cube there in pristine condition having only ever been used that one time. I’m not even sure what happened to the fidget spinner as after spinning it around a few times and using a stopwatch to see just how long it would spin before stopping, I grew bored with it. And my poor little stress ball, in truth, failed to get any more attention than these little contraptions. The problem was the repetition of the task. While I love little routines, I find little comfort in rote repetition. I like it when things are always a little bit new and unexpected. I adore it when what I doing produces a few surprises.
So, all of my fidget toys have been retired now, and I realize I’ve found the best solution to my restless spirit already. My daily sketching and painting routine is by far the best way to deal with my fidgety nature. Even though it’s only a few precious minutes a day, it gives me such a moment of sharp focus that’s perfectly rejuvenating. I asked Philippe tonight if he still used his Fidget Cube and he simply shrugged and said, “No” while nodding in the general direction he thought he’d left it last. Then, without a moment’s hesitation, he showed me a new 3D software that he’s excited to learn next. I had to giggle as a house with two artists is a fun and ever-changing house indeed. Everything is a bit random and, well, just incredibly enjoyable. We argue and bicker like any couple, but each time, one of us manages to point out a bit of inscrutable irony in our argument that leaves us both collapsing into giggles. I’m not entirely sure that restlessness and stress require a cure. They just need to be honed into something creative and given a chance to make a positive difference. I take great comfort in the notion that, perhaps, simply by being artists, we’ve already well and truly mastered the art of fidgeting.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Opus (Vivid Pink), Vermillion, Aureolin, Cobalt Turquoise, Leaf Green, Cobalt Blue, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!