Yesterday, a realization I had in the morning collided with Jamie Ridler‘s post “Do You Call Yourself An Artist?,” which I read in the afternoon. It could not have been better, more synchronous timing! If you are at all creatively inclined, or even if you think you aren’t, I encourage you to read Jamie’s post.
I frequently ask myself, “Who am I really? What do I want to do with my life?”
I’m not sure that I know the fullness of who I am, but I do know what I want to do with my life, in my heart of hearts, and how that categorizes me.
In my heart of hearts, I am a photographer, a writer, and a life artist. What follows is my declaration of artistry.
If I could only dedicate myself to one creative endeavor for the rest of my life, it would be photography.
Wherever I am, there is always something to photograph. Light is constantly shifting, plants are constantly growing or shedding, the sky has the capability to look different at every glance. Things I see every day take on a new life and new beauty viewed through a camera lens.
Photography makes me slow down and notice. It takes me into that much-sought, but elusive, flow state faster than anything. It is meditative for me. When I’m absorbed in it, the sky could fall and the only way I’d notice is if I was photographing it at the time.
Behind the lens, I am standing in my own power.
Behind the lens, I am not bothered by things that would normally set me on edge, like insects, or heights. Oh, I do remain safe, but I’m moving from a different place, a deep intuition rather than small-minded fear.
Behind the lens, I am not afraid to take creative risks. For instance, I frequently shoot “blind,” not looking through the viewfinder or at the LCD screen on the back of my camera, but by lining up the lens itself with a subject and hoping for the best. These risks frequently pay off, such was the case with this blind but beautiful shot:
Photography found me, rather than the other way around. It found me in the form of my first digital camera in 2006, a cheap, off-brand 4.5 megapixel point-and-shoot that arrived as a Christmas gift from my parents. I found myself taking more artistic shots and less snapshots. I dove in, snapping away with it so much that I wore it out in a little over a year, when I bought my second similar camera, only this time it had a 5.1 megapixel resolution.
After proving to myself that this was not a hobby I was going to be giving up soon, last Fall I bought my current camera, a Canon PowerShot A 1100 IS, feeling it would be a good step-up camera as it had a high resolution (12.1 mpx), plenty of shooting modes (including video with sound), and manual programming options.
That’s when I became a devotee, snap-snap-snapping away as though there had never been a time I wasn’t out trying to find the next great shot.
Now, if it all comes together as I plan, I will be giving myself my first DSLR kit for Christmas, a Canon EOS Rebel XS with starter lens, and, I hope, also a macro lens. (Macro is one of my favorite shooting modes.) I checked it out, held it in my hands, and I loved the way it felt. Just seriously considering this feels like saying a big, fat, ecstatic “Yes!” to that part of my artist self.
But a photographer isn’t all I am…
Ever since I learned to write, I have been. And before I learned to write, I was speaking stories into the microphone of a Fisher Price toy tape recorder. For most of my life, since early childhood, I’ve dreamed of being a novelist and poet.
Earlier in life, I wrote poems and stories with abandon. While writing has been more difficult in recent years due to an overly developed Inner Editor, I am not giving up. I am also allowing it to take whichever form it wishes to take.
Seldom a day goes by that I don’t write something, somewhere. Sometimes it’s a blog post. Sometimes it’s just writing the story of my day down in my paper journal. Sometimes it’s a poem, shared or kept to myself. Once in a great while it’s a short story, or the start of a novel.
Today, as I write this–this am writing this, after all–I have two story/novella/novel ideas (I’m not sure what they will grow up to be) gestating in the back of my mind. And, while they grow and develop, while they aren’t ready to come out to play yet, I am feeding my writer self encouragement.
A writer is someone who writes, who longs to write, and I do; therefore, I am a writer.
I am very interested in combining the arts, spirituality, and life.
Our lives are tapestries, each thing we do a different thread. If you turn the tapestry over, you will usually find that, beneath the surface, the threads are all tied together.
Spirituality feeds my writing and photography. Writing and photography feed my spirit, and make life enjoyable.
I know that I want my life’s tapestry to be as beautiful as possible, and I try to stay centered in that.
Mundane things that we don’t think about are creative acts: choosing what to wear on any given day, preparing a meal, singing in the shower, choosing our home’s furnishings and their arrangement, for example. These, too, are threads in the tapestry.
Choosing a career or a course of study is a creative act, as these things create a knowledge base for each of us, and can create an identity for us as well.
Donating items to Goodwill or money to a non-profit of your choice is a creative act, as it creates opportunities for other people and/or other living things on this planet, and frequently creates a feeling of warmth within us.
These are just examples. Every single thing we do is a thread in our life’s tapestry, or a brush stroke on our life’s painted portrait. And where there is creation, there is artistry. This, I have come to wholeheartedly believe, even though I have to remind myself from time to time.
This is a badge to be shared, the badge of “life artist.” Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself, you, too, are a life artist, so take that badge for yourself and display it proudly, along with any others to which you feel called.