I am a naturally nervous person.
Anxiety is my constant bedfellow. I’m not sure what it would feel like to be calm, but in contrast to my default state I might imagine it would feel a little lonely; I can always count on my worries to ride along with me anywhere.
A lifetime ago, I used to smoke to help with my anxiety. I found the ritual of it all very comforting, the hand-to-mouth exercise soothing and gratifying. But, thankfully, I found that crosshatch drawing is much moreso of the virtues from smoking, without any of the dangerous — and offensive — side effects.
I don’t know how it is for anyone else, but for me, crosshatch drawing is a natural stand-in for zen. You draw one line and then the next, going for straight, hoping for evenly spaced, but knowing that there is no wrong: only an ink foundation upon which an image is formed. One point connects to another, separating background from foreground, changing muted to sharp. And when the picture comes into undeniable focus, it packs more clarity and magic than your future surfacing from the red mist of a magic 8-ball.
There is a delicate balance that must be sought in leaving white space to breathe, in making sure the image doesn’t get inked to death, mired in a swampy morass of black. And I have struggled through a rash of undesired wavy lines, the regrettable pen strike, and tragically: the disturbing smear you can’t take back. Still, the hum and click of line after line of crosshatch drawing does more for my blood pressure than I imagine the best diuretic could do.
Even though my fingers ache at the end of a marathon drawing session, weaving lines is the ultimate in self-treatment for me. And so I’ll keep my hoard of micro pen in full provision, outpacing my anxiety line by line by line.