Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Words and Pictures

  My family and I recently had a vacation in Japan. We all had a wonderful time and it was another visually stunning journey. I took hundreds of photos. In my adult life I have been a bit of a dabbler, and I took several courses in photography in my late twenties and early thirties, and although I never completed those studies, I still love photography as a creative outlet. I find when I get behind my camera I really open my eyes, I see things more deeply, I notice subtleties and delicate nuances, the light and dark of things, the beauty of the large and the minute. I attune to symmetry, color, pattern, as well as the feeling, the emotion of things and people. I think I start seeing from a soul level when I use my lens. I am not a highly gifted or well trained photographic artist, but I delight in what I capture and value what I create. I have been pondering how to further use my photography in some way in my creative life.

On the plane returning to China I watched a movie called "Words and Pictures". It was not the best movie I have ever seen, but I did thoroughly enjoy it. The movie's central plot is built around two characters, one of them a male high school English teacher, the other a female Art teacher. Each is convinced that their chosen form of creative expression is superior to the other and so they begin a war between their classes, a battle between words and pictures. In the end it becomes clear that both words and pictures are evocative, powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking, joy inducing and ultimately so essentially human that we need them both. There is also a particular scene in the movie that points out the way music can touch into deep feelings and emotions in a way that other means can not, and I personally feel that dance does this as well. All of these forms we call the arts are really the soul expression of humanity, we would be lost without them.

When I got home I was reflecting on this and my desire to be even more creative, to create without so much considering and over thinking. I want to find avenues for daily expression without worrying about what other people will think of it or if they will value it. I am feeling like if I open the doors to a more varied and less cautious relationship with what I am putting out, the more my energy will become free flowing, and the more access I will have to my creative source, to my spiritual self. Kurt Vonnegut said, "Go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."

Besides photography, a form I used to invest enormous energy in, is poetry. In fact poetry is one of the first things I was recognized for at school. I remember in second grade, as part of a study unit on Japan (my, how things come full circle), being assigned the task of writing a haiku. When the teacher came to my desk and handed it back to me I saw it was marked ++, the best you could get, and a gold star sticker bonus. I remember her smiling at me and telling me what a good job I had done. This moment figures so crucial to me that, although I don't remember the teacher's name, I still remember my haiku.

                                            The Moth
                                      the moth in the dark
                                   flutters like the lost dew drops
                                      and then goes away

So it occurs to me that it would be interesting to take this idea of words and pictures and start my own personal creative inquiry around my use of both these forms. I will begin trying to post a picture and corresponding poem to this blog each day. I don't want to get too strict or rigid with myself though either, so that it is an intention with lots of breathing room and wiggle space. I will use this as an additional component to the work I am doing around self empowerment and letting go of the need for external validation or specific outcomes in my work.

This concept of doing actions without attachment to outcome is at the heart of true yoga practice, which is the central pillar of my life. In The Bhagavad Gita,  Krisha says to Arjuna, " You have a right to your actions, but never to your actions' fruits. Act for the actions sake. And do not be attached to inaction. Self possessed, resolute, act without any thought of results, open to success or failure. This equanimity is yoga."

Indeed, to simply open to the creative intelligence that lives in each of us is an astounding proposition, and if each of us started a curious and playful endeavor into our particular creative pathways, whatever they may be, without the dependence on external validation, it would be nothing less than revolutionary, evolutionary!

Do something that feels like art to you, that thing that makes you feel whole, engaged, alive, and do it. "Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  I would love to hear about your creative experiments as well!!


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