Invocation of the Muse
Lately, I’ve taken to feeding my mind with books on conquering resistance and harnessing the power of creativity. This, along with watching Ted Talks to match the subject matter, has taken a front seat to scrolling the internet which only gets me into trouble. There’s been a string of rising stars in my world of photography. Watching them you feel a swift breeze of inspiration along with an equal kick of self doubt and fear. But talks like this one with Kirby Ferguson speak to the notion that no one is truly original anymore. I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or creates another wave of anxiety. As an artist, I believe we come forth from deep within, placing a piece of our soul out in the world for others to pick up and explore. So the mere thought of duplicating another person’s concept, even if by accident, is a horrifying thought. Even more horrifying…the idea that maybe we aren’t that unique. After I take a moment to reflect on that thought I come to a new consensus. There is solace and comfort in knowing there are others out there sharing a similar smiling spirit. Others to collaborate with. Share insights, encourage and motivate. So maybe it’s not all that bad.
But on that note, if we aren’t all original, how do we seek to find that authentic concept? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.
According to history, the ancient Greeks and Romans called upon a daimon to help them reach their fullest potential, also known as a genius. I’m not sure when the Western world took over this word to describe one person possessing innate abilities, whether they be intellectual or creative, but to the Greeks/Romans, a genius was some kind of deity that would come down from the heavens and bestow upon us inspiration. The words to write. The melody to play. The all encompassing theory that would change the way we view the world, etc. etc. All that is required is our presence to take in these moments of grandeur and put pen to paper, paint to canvas. How much easier the process sounds (in theory) to invoke the power of the genius…to bring forth creativity to oneself as such a willing participant.
Steven Pressfield, the author of The War On Art, (and also the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance) says a little prayer to “show respect to this unseen Power who can make or break me” before sitting down to work.
It goes like this:
“O Divine Poesy, goddess, daughter of Zeus, sustain for me this song of the various-minded man who, after he had plundered the innermost citadel of hallowed Troy, was made to stay grievously about the coasts of men, the sport of their customs, good and bad, while his heart, through all the sea-faring, ached with an agony to redeem himself and bring his company safe home. Vain hope – for them. The fools! Their own witlessness cast them aside. To destroy for meat the oxen of the most exalted Sun, wherefore the Sun-god blotted out the day of their return. Make this tale live for us in all its many bearings, O Muse.”
– from Homer’s Odyssey, translation by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)”
It kinda takes the pressure off just a wee bit. Call it God. Call it a daimon. Call it a genius. A muse. It doesn’t hurt to pay homage, request a little help and light a candle before a days work. Might have to give this a go.
Maybe that is exactly what Michelangelo did before painting the Sistine Chapel.
This past weekend took me through the South Eastern tip of Utah to a little town called St. George (and onward to Zion National Park) with some incredible people.
The focus: teamwork, leadership, and personal development. I feel quite blessed and lucky to be a part of this group, to experience the energy and feel encouragement for my endeavors on a regular basis. And even luckier to have these two lovely ladies agree to model for me out in the desert with the pressure of the setting sun.
The perfect setting. Inspiration at every bend in the trail. The movement of light with the passing day. The smell of the earth. The occasional jack rabbit running through the landscape. The air must vibrate on a different frequency there. Perhaps one where the spirit world and our world are most closely aligned. All one can do is look around and drink it all in…every last drop.
Most certainly, there is a reason why they call this place Zion.
If you are interested, check out this 20 min Ted Talk with Elizabeth Gilbert…her thoughts around creativity and how you can continue to aspire to greatness even after obtaining success after Eat Pray Love.
This is a non-post. I’m about ready to head out tomorrow to hit the National Park ridden State of Utah with some fellow co-workers, of whom I am lucky enough to call friends.
(I should be sleeping right now!)
But I made a promise to myself that I would karate chop resistance in the face as I attempt to post to this blog weekly. And since, time ran away like the dish with the spoon, this will have to do.
Here is proof that sometimes, as you stare off into the distance preparing to jump four feet down while performing your best Peter Pan, you just gotta stop and do a little dance!
This also goes to show what happens when you hand control of the shutter over to one of your supervising friends. (Thanks, Bonnie!)
Do A Little Dance – Get Down Tonight!
More to come next week. I should have better material to share than this silly little gif. (I just learned how to make these…again, when I should be sleeping!)
Le rêve de l’abeille
Perhaps it’s the fact that June is quickly approaching and I’ll soon meet up with all those beautiful people I met in France; this time in Iceland. It could also be that several very dear people in my life are bilingual and in some cases even trilingual. I’ve been throwing around the idea for some time now. So I figure, what the hell…
It’s time to learn French!
Several days ago my sister informed me of an app called Duolingo. It’s absolutely free (my favorite kind) and puts my tongue through several twisters as I attempt to say “R” lettered words. I’m talking R’s that my brain prefers to roll due to two years of Spanish classes and 6 months of working at a Taco joint when I was 16! I’m Hispanic, it’s in the blood. I have declared R’s my new nemesis. The R’s are going down! (I still can’t say robe, French for dress, no matter how hard I try!)
But I’ve been diligent for these last 5 days, going through exercise after exercise and then back again to re-learn words I’ve already forgotten. It’s always harder when there isn’t anyone to practice with…or at least anyone to make fun of me and then correct my pronunciation…which is what I guarantee will happen. My sister is taking the Italian course before she heads out to Italy at the end of the summer, so we compare notes and try to say the same thing in each of our chosen languages of study. This will have to do for now.
They say that English is one of the hardest languages to learn. There are so many words that sound alike yet are spelled completely different and mean something else altogether. But my experience thus far with French has been a bit mind boggling. Without a teacher to school me in the vowels I’m forced to listen and enunciate according to this French Suri’s robotic speak like a trained monkey! What I can’t for the life of me figure out is if we don’t pronounce those pesky little letters, then why are they even a part of the word at all, I ask you? Then sometimes, these silent consonants magically appear when placed in front of another word. No one has explained the rule. I don’t understand the pattern. I. Am. So. Confused.
Admittedly, I’m quite amused at some of these phrases I’ve been asked to say and repeat. Like – Le serpent est violet. I’ve never met a purple snake! Or L’éléphant est mange une pomme rouge. Do elephants eat apples? Maybe? But rouge. That’s another word I have trouble saying correctly. Again with the R’s!
As I step away from the app my memory quickly fades. Yet, two phrases stand strong in the fortress of my brain.
1. Je suis une femme.
2. J’aime boire du vin.
Translation for you non-French speaking people…I am a woman and I like to drink wine. I’m not sure what this says about me but I like it!
Strangely enough, Duolingo hasn’t taught me to ask – How are you doing? The cornerstone phrase for anyone learning Spanish: ¿Cómo estas? Bien. ¿Y tu?
Last night I dreamt I was back in class. Instead of sitting in the middle of the room, forced to speak Spanish for two minutes, discussing how I bought una cosa para me pelo, I was articulating in French. Openly. Easily. Eagerly. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet.
I captured this frame at the tail end of our France trip in a bathroom, of all places. This gorgeous little window just happened to sit behind the tub with a beautiful view of the countryside. It’s hard not to fall in love with a place like this. The history, the grandeur, the romanticism. The claw foot bath tub! (Oh, how I adore claw footed bath tubs.)
It wasn’t until we left the chateau did I realize this image isn’t even in focus! Whoops! I have no idea where I focused the camera. It remains a mystery. But sometimes, it doesn’t really matter.
And in case any of you are wondering, no, that bee was not posing for the shot! No way! Chances are I would’ve jumped straight out of the window to get away from that guy!
He found his way into my library while visiting Elizabeth Park in Hartford one fine spring day. It pays to stop and smell the flowers sometimes.
With a very long lens!
Today was one of those days. Capt Awesome took off for North Carolina before the sun greeted the day and I was left in a state of perpetual funk. When he leaves, traveling for work, I immediately divert back to my old single habits of dirty dishes, an unkempt bed, cereal for dinner and late evenings well past midnight. It’s inevitable. It cannot be helped.
But with these crazy habits bring a rain cloud to follow me through my days, despite the near perfect weather outside.
It’s hard to believe how one person can have such an effect on another.
But beyond that, aside from a few telephone calls, I didn’t engage in any other human interaction, outside of some mindless chit chat at the dog park. I don’t know how you introverts do it because after a day of this, I start to come out of my skin. But when I stop and think about it, the reality is – I did this to myself, choosing to sulk in my cheerios instead of reveling in a little freedom…the freedoms that often get put on the shelf along with your single self. Such as blasting Tori Amos throughout the house and singing at the top of my lungs, snacking that results in eating an entire bag of chips all while binge watching romantic comedies.
Which reminds me…I currently have sole possession over the remote control! On that note…
(And that’s how you turn a frown upside down!)
Despite the gloominess of this day, it was actually filled with lots of excitement and shutter clicks from a collection of photographers in the surrounding area as Joel Robison
, Shane Black
and Sarah Ann Loreth
came through town on their Wild Ones Tour
. Each one of these photographers have unique styles and interest and all of them are out in the world making a living with their work and at such a young age. My eyes filled with hope and possibilities. It’s never too late and you’re never too old to start over, start fresh, and do something you love.
This concept fastened roots many months ago during a low moment, waiting for the right location, right scene and right weather pattern to demand attention. Overcast and damp. Enough moisture to make you question your footing and make you weigh the importance of items in your possession. Save the camera or break a leg? A couple of close calls and a rolled ankle but luckily no serious bodily or mechanical injury took place that day.
Really, any day with a camera, a bunch of crazy photographers and some creativity is a good day. A big thank you to AJ Coley for modeling this concept for me.
Amongst the Elders
I awoke to a dream this morning. I wouldn’t quite call it a nightmare, although it wasn’t particularly pleasant. Not only had the grey hairs on my head multiplied like guppies in a fish tank, but apparently my roots showed evidence that I’d been secretly dyeing my hair for months. Now revealing the truth that I had a full head of grey hair! I remember staring at myself in the mirror, picking through strands of hair, mouth aghast and horrified at the discovery!
What in the world is going on in my subconscious mind?
I never cared so much when I was younger. You never quite imagine, I mean really, what you would look like after the glow of youth starts to wane. How the crinkles slowly turn into crevasses. How the bones creak upon that first step out of bed. I remember Mom commenting when I was 25 that I should wear sunglasses to avoid the squint that would eventually result in wrinkles. I then recall dismissing the thought as if it was a Mom being Mom saying…you know…in one ear and out the other. Now that “serious” wrinkle line bought real estate between my eye brows. Rat bastard! All attempts to deliver an eviction notice have been rendered useless. (Botox is NOT an option, so don’t even bother suggesting it!) We can just tack that on to the list of Should’ve listened to Mom.
Moving beyond outward appearances, I’ve noticed other changes. The body doesn’t recover quite as quickly after a tough day at the gym. Ice cream doesn’t always agree with me and quite frequently challenges me to a duel. 50/50 shot between winning and losing on that front but I accept every time regardless! My memory is starting to fly away. Remembering words, let alone phone numbers…fogetaboutit…You know, smart phones have made us stupid! I grow more and more intolerant of the youth, their vernacular, their sense of entitlement and their clothes. Perhaps this might be different if the Capt. and I brought one of our own into this world, but since we haven’t, I see us falling into the traps of Walter Mathau and Jack Lemmon sooner rather than later. Actually, I have to stop and laugh here, as I often made my mother’s eyes roll with my own sense of teenage style. (Yes, we all had to be different in our own conformist kind of way, didn’t we!?)
But the reality truly is that I don’t feel any older mentally. There’s that part of me that still laughs uncontrollably at the silliest things. I burst into song (and/or dance) at a moment’s notice, much to others’ dismay. Yes, I sing Happy Birthday to both my mother and sister every year, in the most horrible of operatic voices. It’s tradition. I wax nostalgic to all the movies of my youth. Tank Girl is now on Netflix!!! (You know you liked it…I promise I won’t tell!) Puppies, kittens, dolphins, horses, anything soft and fuzzy immediately turn me into an 8 year old in 0.5 seconds. It can’t be helped. I have to touch them. I have paid plenty the pretty penny to hold and pet exotic animals. You name it…koala (2), a baby lion, a pink dolphin, a beluga whale. There was even one illegal touching spree on the pier in San Francisco with a sea lion, but I digress.
Point being that the inner child doesn’t recognize the face staring back in the mirror anymore. It’s a strange reality to be faced with on a daily basis.
But if I had the chance to go back and re-live my youth again, I’d say, hell no! (The hot-headed, emotional and somewhat irrational Marisa is long gone replaced with a much calmer and patient alternative.) But I suppose more than anything, it’s the ability to recognize that I really don’t know everything. That wisdom lies in the experience with those whom have walked this planet a few years longer, have touched the hot stove, felt the burn, and had their heart broken once or twice. Yet we brush them off with a nod and a “yeah, yeah” before heading out the door. I miss those long talks with my grandmother until 2am over a plate of sopapillas. The stories she would tell! The stories I will take with me when she’s no longer here to tell them.
Unfortunately, I do not have any behind the scenes images from this particular piece. That particular day was unseasonably warm for three days post Christmas; cloudy and threatening rain for hours. We had just reached this tree, when the sky decided to break. It was a frantic 5 minutes of shooting fearing the inevitable massive downpour before climbing back up a rocky, yet slippery slope and back to the car.
But I did happen upon this image of the exact same tree taken 6 months earlier in the middle of summer. It’s amazing what a couple of seasons can do to the shape of the landscape. This particular park, Great Falls Park (Virginia and Maryland sides), has become a fan favorite of ours. A big thank you to Tom for meeting up during the holidays for some much needed creativity.