Religion

I hate Christmas

 

I hate Christmas.

Ok. 

I said it.

I hate the very idea of decorating our homes, with bright, shimmering lights, in the middle of Fall. Yes, Fall.

Feel free to hate me at the very core of my ignorance but I am just not ready to inundate my senses with all these magical grand illusions of twinkling lights and enchanted ferries.

I hate Christmas.

I hate many things, but I definitely hate Christmas.

I hate the fact that everything is on sale. That black Friday is upon us. That everyone is rushing around trying to buy something, anything. It seems like everyone is planning their Christmas or March Break vacations, Christmas dinners, or how to not make an ass of themselves at the office Christmas party. At least not this year. Or at least not anymore.

But for me the world got really dark. 

For me, I entered into an all-consuming period of loneliness.

I am not sure what I did to deserve becoming its lovely host, each and every year since I was a small child, but I have resigned myself not to resist anymore. Darkness has become my lovely friend.

These days, the sun rises late, and it sets far too early. The few moments of sunshine that are left, I ignore, by working in an ugly portable, away from what matters, pretending that I know something.

Please forgive me if I don’t get overly excited over tinsel and stockings. Forgive me if I don’t get overly excited to rush around, fighting for a parking spot of a crowded mall, while trying to imagine what to buy, and what joy it will be when I pay it off, a year from now, or at some point, I’m sure. I’m so grateful to the credit companies for their generosity and extended credit at this, my greatest time of need.

I’m lonely and I strangely alienated. I’m a Scrooge, devoid of all magical Holiday Spirit. Yes, I am a cancer to your glee and generosity. In November. Yes, November.  

They say that a child ends up spending less than fifteen minutes playing with their Christmas present before they get bored and look to do something else.

Fifteen minutes.

Is it worth it.

I don’t really hate Christmas.

I like it.

I just wish we were nicer to each other, especially through the dark days of November and December. I wish we didn’t pretend to care when we don’t. That we didn’t make promises, we don’t intend to keep. I wish we were a little more human. A little more lonely.

I wish we were more in touch with our loneliness.

Being lonely is not easy, but I no longer run away from its embrace.

I am lucky that I have never looked for shelter with drugs or alcohol. I don’t distract myself with binge watching television shows or get engrossed with the latest gossip on the internet. I struggle with overeating at times, that’s for sure. Food is my drug of choice. My dirty habit, but even here, I’ve managed to find a teeter totter type of balance of sorts.

We are lonely people.

Why do we treat our loneliness as a morbid debilitating disease?

Why are we not kinder to ourselves?

We are just longing for something. Searching for something. We want to know we are not alone.

At this time of year, I miss my mom and dad the most. I wonder when it will be my turn, and if I will be missed at all. I look back and smile at the silly things I’ve done and the mistakes I’ve made. I glance back at all the dreams that are still unfulfilled and most of all I long to live the rest of my days with a deeper purpose, with more meaning.

There is no reason to hate Christmas.

There is no reason to hate loneliness either.

As long as you don’t face it down alone.

 


time to purge

 

It’s time to purge and clean house.

There seems to be a new sense of clarity permeating my life.  A clarity that had not been there before for a long, long, time. 

I wake up with a purpose.  I hustle with intensity.  I breathe deep.  I slow down.  I enjoy living, instead of struggling through existing.

It has become abundantly clear that it is time to chuck some things.

I need to accelerate the great purge.

I have too many xxl t-shirts, not to mention pants that are too wide.  I have oversized formal dress shirts, that await the bigger me, and have always been on standby, just in case I gain a few extra-pounds.  A sad cost saving measure.

My mind is struggling to grasp who I am and who I want to be.  It is a fight.

Unless my mind comes to understand and believe where we are going, it is inevitable that I will once again swing back to the natural state of my previous existence.

No chance.

This has always been a part of my problem.

It’s like smoking your last cigarette, or just finishing off the last pack.  It’s like waiting til Monday, waiting til just after Christmas, or just after the long weekend, or after your birthday, or after the vacation, or after, after, forever ever after.

It’s time to chuck. 

Sorry Chuck.  Time to go.

Time to purge fervently, with one eye open, and both hands swinging.

No man nor woman who puts her hand on the plow, but looks back, is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. 

No man nor woman who tries to change, but spreads breadcrumbs, is fit to dance with their dreams.

The ugly part of organized religion has confused our gaze. 

We have sadly accepted our failed human state as the norm, and have despondently adopted a posture of death. 

Some of us wake up each morning, angry that we must face another day.  And while we make ourselves a coffee, we rush around with no real purpose or direction, remaining miserable throughout the day.  We congregate with our noxious friends like roaches, forming a pestilent colony of misery. We spew venom from our mouths and gossip about anyone and everyone who seems happy.  Then we go to bed, awaiting retirement, and the promise of paradise that is to come.

What a crock of shit.

I am eternally certain that the people who are in heaven, want no piece of that action.

We need to dress up, if we want to attend the party.  Some of us need to certainly shower.

We need to decide in our mind what we want, because what we want, will ultimately be delivered.

It doesn’t matter what you put in the mind.

We live in an abundant universe.  What you ask for, will come your way.

You may not believe me.  You might be skeptical and think that you will always be in debt and that there is not enough of anything to go around, but just fathom the fact that every 39 minutes and new millionaire is made in the United States alone.

You should try embracing abundance.  At least go on a couple of dates.

Control your gossip.  Swat away all thoughts of negativity and misery.  Think positively.  Think hopefully.  Think about your dreams, and wait to see what happens.

Don’t wait a day, or a week, or a month.  Real change is slow and deliberate.

I have no idea what is going on in my life anymore.  Random strangers are coming up to me in all sorts of places, just to tell me about their lives.  If you knew me well, you would know that I hid for a very long time.  Hid and run from everything and everyone.  I remained dormant.  I dreamed from a distance.  I kept my mouth shut.  My eyes to the ground.  My thoughts to myself.

Today, if I see you, no matter who you are, I would love to talk to you.  About anything.  For as long as I can.

I call this living.

It is time to shed some clothes.  It is time to get some new threads.  Sexy threads even.

There is no going back.  

It is time to plow ahead.

No plan B. 

No return ticket.

It is the perfect time to destroy our limiting thoughts, and embrace abundance.


the war of art - part 2

 

The Resistance is powerful and it stops us from being creators.  It distracts or seduces us from being the masters of our destiny.

Rational Thoughts, and our Family and Friends are the other contributing factors that burden our struggle.

What are rational thoughts?

Rational Thoughts are intimately connected to our ego.  They are rational and that is the problem.  In order to create something great, we need inspiration and it does not come from within.  The Greeks and Romans believed in the Muse who would whisper things unseen into the poet's ears.  Living a good life is human domain.  Creating Art is divine.  Just listen to any exceptional singer songwriter like Neil Young or Bob Dylan, and the process is almost identical.  They never take any credit for creating the music.  They all say the same thing.  They were only the vehicle that let the songs out.

Genius doesn't live on the inside.  She is found on the higher plain and it is our responsibility to look for her.

What about our Family and Friends?  Surely they would not resist us?

It is clear that our family and friends loved us.  They love as for who we are, but they want to keep us the same.  It starts when we are babies.  Our mothers don't want us to grow up.  We are so cute that they wish we could stay like that forever.  It would cripple us and destroy us if we did.  

Family and friends don't like change.  It is sudden, and feels uncomfortable.  It awakens the resistance hiding inside of their being.  That sudden fear and anxiety will not be beneficial to our dreams and ventures.

Steven Pressfield is in no way suggesting that our personal relationships with those we love are not important or central to our lives.  He is talking about their usefulness to us as artists.  My boss will never consult my wife or children, so why should we consult them either?  Only you can draw the non-existent map and reach your unrealized potential.  

Our family and friends do not understand the artist that is trying to awaken inside us.  We are truly unborn to even ourselves.  Our only option is to face our destiny and assume our rightful part of the sculptor.  We need to take charge and chisel out our own new life.  

We are not responsible for the marble.  God is.  It is clear that we are the only ones capable of executing masterful strokes with immaculate precision.  We alone can shape ourselves into who we wish to become.

No one can lift wights for you.  No one can stop you from lighting up your next cigarette or pillaging your children's Halloween candy.  Nobody will pick up a pen for you.  No one will tell you what you should photograph next.

Read The War of Art.  

Prepare for battle.

The world needs new warriors!

 


the war of art - part 1

 

I have recently discovered Steven Pressfield.

His book, The War of Art, is brilliant and cuts to the heart of the matter.  Becoming an entrepreneur or an artist will not be easy and the book doesn't present any quick formulas, nor any magical mantras.  It does have brilliant insights though and I am beginning to appreciate the effort and dedication it takes to overcome the force of resistance.  I highly recommend you get a hold of a copy today.  Don't resist.

This is part one of two.

It's not easy to start a new business, write a novel, or become a new father for that matter.  Steven Pressfield calls the powerful force that rises against us when we attempt to realize our dreams - the Resistance.  We resist many things.  We resist our great ideas and we hide from our higher nature.  Every human mind is full of infinite dreams and an inexhaustible number of innovative ideas, but they are often strangled, buried and left unrealized.  Sonny summarizes this beautifully when he tells Calegoro, in The Bronx Tale that, "the saddest thing in life is wasted talent".

Let's not waste our talents

But how?

The War of Art illustrates that we must first understand the forces that work against us.  Prescott gives an example of three (Resistance.  Rational Thought.  Family and Friends).

Today, I want to briefly explore Resistance.  Tomorrow, we'll touch on our Rational Thoughts, Family plus our Family and Friends.

Here are the most common examples of the Resistance.

 

fear

self-doubt

procrastination

addiction

distraction

timidness

narcissism

self-loathing

perfectionism

 

Read the list again.  Read it slowly.  Which force are you wrestling with the most?

My struggle is right now is with Self-Doubt.

Self-Doubt is that intimidating voice in my head which forcefully demands to know who I think I am?  The voice which demands to know who I am to try to do anything? 

What do you know?  What have you accomplished?  What makes you think that you have anything to share?  No one cares.  No one will see.  No one will hear or listen.  You're a hack.  A timid copycat.  A plagiarist at best, and probably not a well edited one at that.

Self-Doubt has stopped me for years, but in truth it probably has probably harmed me for decades.  Nobody likes to be yelled at, especially when you recognize the voice because it comes from within.  The Trojan horse has crippling consequences.  

Time is our friend though, and a great healer.  With time, all the painful sentiments can grow a little less crippling, a little more worn, and a whole lot more predictable.  Time makes self-doubt a little less pronounced and muted.  As we grow older we slowly run out of options.  There are only so many tomorrows. 

The time to do something is now.  The resistance will never change.  It is always rested, relentless and tireless.  There is much more at stake today, then yesterday.  There are little eyes watching my every move, listening to everything I say, trying to learn how to properly navigate this world of ours.  If I fail, I will fail them also..

I'm conquering self-doubt by digging ditches.  I start at 4am and I dig.  I dig until I can't dig any more.

At night, before bed, I reflect in my journal and allow myself a moment to marvel at what was accomplished.  (The little things add up over time). 

The next day, I dig again.

 


ash wednesday and the tragically hip

 

I have always loved Ash Wednesday.  I'm not sure why that is but probably because it is predictable and always falls on a Wednesday.  Easy-Peasy.  We also get to be dirty, just like when we were kids.

I have grown in appreciation for this beautiful moment because life does not present us with many opportunities that focus so intensely on our mortality.

It is amazing how many people don't care or fail to observe  the point. We watch the Walking Dead, but we fail to see that we ARE the Walking Dead.

Lent is the sister to brothers Ramadan and Yom Kippur, and she reminds us that we have to get ready to die.

Happy Wednesday everybody, you're going to die!

If you have ever attended Ash Wednesday services, willingly or unwillingly, you had your head smeared with ashes.  Ashes that are the labour that destroyed and burned palm branches from the previous year's Palm Sunday.  For a brief moment today, the Catholic world gets to experience the texture and smell of decay.  Thankfully, our souls are odor free.

There are three things you are likely to hear as you receive the ashes: 'Repent, and hear the good news' or perhaps 'Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel', but my favourite is 'Remember, o man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.'

Remember that, dear reader.  We are dust, dust in the wind.  With the deepest irony, I am reminding you that were born to die.  There is no cure for life. 

This reminds me of the Tragically Hip and their song The Inevitability of Death

It was written with cheeky humour and is part of the Day For Night album.  Gord Downie, wrote the lyrics to this jewel of a song, imagining the radio deejay struggling with himself how to introduce this single, as the listeners begin their morning commute.  It would probably be slotted somewhere between the Insurance Broker commercial and the Retirement Home ad.

 

But I thought you beat the death of inevitability to death just a little bit
I thought you beat the inevitability of death to death just a little bit

 

It is time for me to stop beating this drum of death.

But it is also our time to stop watching and awake from our slumber.

 


my mid-life crisis

 

I think it's time to speak about my mid-life crisis.

Let me first clarify before you jump to the wrong conclusions that I have not lost my mind.

I have not lost my identity, nor have I lost my self confidence.  My mind is not overwhelmed with melancholic thoughts, and I am not anxious or filled with deep regret.  I don't want to get younger, or grow my hair.  I have not purchased a new shiny sports car, nor do I have any desire for a sordid love affair.

I am happily married and immensely grateful for my beautiful family.  I can also confidently say that I am content with my profession. 

Our family debt is slowly getting smaller.  My health is good.  These are the prime years of my life, and in just twelve more years, I get to retire, and French kiss my pension with open arms. 

All that is left, it seems, is to preorder a good pair of dentures, invest in a modest rental property in sunny Florida, buy a mahogany rocking chair, and pick a good stain for the pine box I'll be buried in.  Maybe a nice Hawaiian shirt wouldn't hurt either.

I have everything I think I need, and yet I find myself at the crossroads of my life, and in a state of crisis.

I've been here before, but not quite like this.  

Not all crossroads are wrought with pain and agony.  Quite the opposite. 

There is a relentless little voice inside my head and it speaks in an inaudible whisper.  I hear it with my soul and it calls me to greatness.  It calls me to heights I never dreamed possible.  To be honest, I want to ignore this little voice because it entices me to the edge of the Abyss.  An Abyss that is dark and cold.  Ready to collapse upon itself at any moment.  When I think of the artists I admire, I see people who were predestined and somehow chosen for their mission.  I don't feel chosen.  I don't feel predestined.

Artists are human caricatures.  They are people who seem so distant and far away.  They seem to live scripted lives.  They are gods and goddesses among us.  Individuals who start revolutions,  brand movements, and destroy to make new.  Their lives are those of legend, the anointed ones, the chosen people.  

There is nothing about me that seems remotely chosen, yet here I sit and wonder who I am not to believe and try? 

That is my crisis.  

I am living inside a moment that is without a doubt calling me to greatness.  I feel pushed and compelled to take swift and decisive action.  I can no longer stand by and wait.  

Part of me is very numb with fear.  Not the fear of failure, but the fear of success.  If I am right, then I have misread the meaning of my life, or perhaps wasn't quite ready to see it before.  I fear that over time, perhaps today or maybe tomorrow, I will have to say goodbye to some of my friends and acquaintances, or rather, they will secretly say goodby to me.  I am undergoing a Kafkaesque metamorphosis and facing my trial.  I am Joseph K.  It feels like I have awakened in the Tower and Babel and I no longer speak the same language.  I think and feel estranged and distant. 

I have decided not to be afraid of the Abyss and to walk with fear and trembling, down a road I do not know or see.  I'm not sure if I am more afraid of the unknown path, or making the return.  If I don't succeed, I will have to crawl back into my old stretched skin, and I'm afraid to imagine how dark and empty it will feel.  Heraclitus was right.  We cannot step into the same river twice, because it is not the same river, and I am not the same man. 

Life perpetually moves forward.  No exceptions.  It is only our mind that is stubborn and braces itself to live in the past.

The word crisis has several meanings. 

It is possessed by the three weird sisters: chaos, anxiety, and uncertainty.  This is why the moment of crisis never feels right.  How can it?  There is nowhere to run.  There is nowhere to hide.  No safety nets.  No underground bunker.  Panic sets in and fear is never far behind, yet despite all of our natural instincts, the only way through, is to stand still, motionless, and watch the storm pass us by.  It always passes by.  Only those that go through the storm are greeted by the new sun.  Only those who are courageous to leap, experience weightlessness, and emerge transformed.

There is a fourth often forgotten sister.  The one we never speak of or ever write about.  She, like Cinderella, is made to sweep our house and be enslaved to others.  Her name is Catharsis and she embodies an opportunity and a chance for growth and change.  

Catharsis is the process of releasing.  A point of purity.  A moment of cleansing.

No, I have not joined a cult.  I'm not a big fan of the secret whispers, the midnight meetings or the sweaty handshakes.  I also think I didn't follow the application process correctly.  If there is one thing I know about cults, it's that they are efficient.  The office was closed, so I might have to wait 'til Monday.  They just hate it when you call them outside of regular business hours.

What does this all mean you ask?  

I don't know.

These are the only words swirling around in my brain and it is all I have in order to try to make sense of where I am and where I want to go.

I have been a photographer for almost ten years, but never took it seriously.  I was lucky to have inherited that passion from my father.  I have never written with meaning and purpose either, at least not until I started these little musings of mine.  I believe I also inherited my love of writing from my father.  

My mother on the other hand game me my soul; the heart to love the broken and forsaken.  I have never met a more beautiful and kindhearted woman in my life.  I had the privilege of meeting one once, and so I married her.

Two men stared out their prison bars.  One saw stars, the other saw mud.

I am standing in a pool of mud, still behind bars, but what is different about me today is that I can see the stars.  

They are beautiful.  They are majestic and they cannot be counted.  

It is not only the sun that happens to shine bright.  She has a seemingly infinite number of brothers and sisters.  Our ancestors spent their life contemplating and rejoicing over those little points of light.  So far away; yet so real and visible.  We don't look at the stars anymore, we only watch them on Oscars night or the Grammys, on our precious little glowing screens.  

I plan to continue writing.  I plan on creating breathtaking photographs.

There is no more dreaming.  No more standing still.

It is time to do the work.

 


monatizing your dream is the only way out

 

Being an entrepreneur is the best way out of this mess. 

The unreflected life is not worth living, Socrates once remarked, but I have recently learned that without an opportunity to earn that living, there is little chance for reflection. 

Being a part of a family has been the single most meaningful experience I have ever accidentally stumbled upon.  But that is not the only plane of existence, we are complex and multi-dimensional beings.  In order to maintain a happy life, we must live and grow in all of our dimensions.  It would be foolish to put our dreams on hold.  This sacrifice is foolish.  The people in our life are the reason why the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, but they don't want our sacrifice. They want love.

Capitalism is an unforgiving machine.  It is beast with no conscience that beats us down with debt and cleans our wounds with credit so we are well enough to face another day.  Capitalism is a beast we cannot tame. 

However, David did slay Goliath.  There is a way out of this madness.  There is a means to win.  That way is through our dreams, but only if we can turn them into something tangible.  

It is not the money or success that matters, but the process.  The money may never come, and every thing you touch may shatter at the slightest touch.  Oscar Schindler failed at every business he ever started, before and after the holocaust, but he was the only entrepreneur, broken as he was, to dream and make a difference.  Ask the families of those he saved and you will understand.

We are on a similar path.  We both have families or someone close to us that we care about,and somewhere along the way we went to school and bought into the illusion that a profession, or a decent job, is what will give us what we need.  With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, we could be anything we wanted to be.

That is a lie.  The world reinvents itself.  Jobs disappear.

We don't choose our life.  We only choose how we live it. 

Like you, I went to school.  I worked hard.  I graduated with a double honours degree thanks to government assistance loans, but as lucky as I felt at the time, I always knew deep down that it was not enough.  I just could not articulate it.  Today, I am bold and arrogant enough to believe that I was born for more.

We all have dreams, or at least I think we do.  Some may be broken and a little dusty, but I sincerely believe we all have them.  Young and old; able and unable, conscious or unconscious.  

Dreams are important, but the steps we take towards them is what makes all the difference.  This is what people mean when they say that life is a journey and not a destination.  It is an old and moldy metaphor but it  tries to point us in the right direction.

We must dream.  We must work towards that dream.  We must monetize it. 

Remember, money is not the root of all evil.  It is the love of money that lies at the root of the problem. 

We are meant to love people and use things, but there is nothing wrong with money. It has its own energy, and the hands that held it tells a story.  If more kindhearted people controlled the world's wealth, we would have a more peaceful planet.  The more you and I can stuff in our little pockets and share with others, the less there is  in a bank vault, doing absolutely nothing for anyone.

We must pursue our dream.  We have a purpose.  We must fall again in love with that dream.

Unfortunately, love alone will make our dream stagnant.  It must be monetized.

Don't quit your job and don't ever abandon your family or friends.  Perhaps go easy on the gossip instead, or chicken wings, reality shows, or football games, if you need to find some extra time.

Don't ever quit.  Work instead, with whatever limited time you have left in your day, and become an entrepreneur. 

Begin today, and take another step.  The world won't notice, but you and I will know that it has made all the difference.

 

 

 


nude photography: art or porn?

 

 

I’m sorry to disappoint you.  There will be no visuals.

It seems that the photography as an art form is in the middle of a deep stagnation.  A crisis of sorts, because unlike sculpture, or the finesse of applying oil or pastels to canvas, the art of photography has become uncontrollably fast, inexpensive, and a disposable after thought.  It seems that all it takes anymore, is one magical box.  A cheap one, or an expensive one.  It doesn’t matter, as long as it comes with that shutter thingy, and a few free Photoshop pre-sets.  Congratulations, you’re on your way to becoming a fine arts photographer.

I am melancholy, because photography today lacks tenacity.  It’s sad, because as an artistic community, we don’t create enough purposeful and meaningful art.  We often fail to share it, or maybe we don’t and it just gets lost somewhere; somewhere deep inside the noise and static.  In either case, there isn’t enough beauty in our world.  Not enough that breaks through to make an impact, anyhow.

Analog is out. 

Digital is in.

I don’t think many of us appreciate how relatively young the art of photography truly is.  It is somewhat strange therefor to reflect and realize that we are only a century or so removed from the first camera, the first print, the first act of beauty in a 35mm canvas of space.

At the beginning, in its infancy, photography was a beautifully rare gift.  It was rare because it took special effort to become its master.  Millions of people were enamoured with this new medium and open to the possibilities it promised.  One of its many expressions were the cabinet cards. 

There are not many around anymore, or perhaps they are getting musty in a box somewhere. 

The cabinet cards were special.  They contained a 4x6 photograph, that was hand glued, and beautifully illustrated.  They were proudly displayed in every cabinet that could hold them.  They were the center of conversation and an oracle of people’s memories.  They were marveled at by visitors and strangers alike.  They connected us.  They enthralled us.  They were a work of art.

At the turn of this century, we diverged on a different path.  We have already taken an incalculable number of photographs and it’s not surprising since every living human has their own camera in thier pocket.  Some of the ravenous gluttons among us even have two.

We are overwhelmed.  We don’t know what to do with ourselves or how to stop.  We take pictures of everything and anything but for what purpose? 

Storage. 

We keep everything in some sort of virtually mobile and un-inventoried heap of crapulous storage.  We’ll find a purpose later, we tell ourselves, and if not, our grandchildren will know what to do with our bathroom selfie, or long forgotten steak sandwich.

Since we pollute everywhere else, it seems fitting that we share our images habitually, without much thought or purpose.  We jam them into our social media feeds with tremendous haste and they serve us well enough.  All these photos seem a poor substitute for words and thoughts.  We seem to be living the Orwellian tragedy.  We are too complacent and refuse to spend any valuable time in selecting our words, and express ourselves through vague sentiments and meaningless chatter.  No one listens anyway.

I am saddened but disobediently hopeful.  I am hopeful because in the end Art will triumph. 

I continue to be inspired by so many great writers and talented photographers that today I renew my wish to join the movement.  I desire to lead a tribe of my own.

I want art to return. 

I want beauty to triumph. 

I don’t want porn do itch and burn deep within our soul.

I have no way to verify this, and I have forgotten who made this observation, but it seems that pornography has saved or at least was instrumental in the expansion and explosion of the internet.

Pornography built the steel rails, we ride upon it.  I should have said journey.  It would have been less cheeky.

Porn is a very prickly subject, and for some time now, a very uncomfortable one for many. Nonetheless, I for one am foolish enough to believe that it is.  If we don’t, one day we’ll lose all our ability to tell the difference between art, and the titillating, seductive vehicle of self-pleasure.

I think the art of nude photography is subtle.  It is very intelligent.  I believe it is best grasped through three distinct dimensions.

Rarity. 

Dignity. 

Experience. 

First - Rarity.

Beautiful and thought provoking photographs of the human form are perceptibly rare.  You won’t find them too easily in a google search, you’ll probably run into a few of the others. They are not easily catalogued or contained in any single book or volume of books at the library or on Amazon.  It is not that easy to discover the talented pool of names that served as studies or the artists who took a leap, walked outside societal norms, and mirrored something we are all very scared to behold. 

Are we not afraid? 

Just see what happens when a nipple makes an appearance at a major television event.  Observe the chaos.  Take note of the incessant internet chatter, as though human nipples were capable and responsible for bringing down entire civilizations.

Artistic nudes are rare. 

They are buried underneath an avalanche of crotch shots, boobbie thrusts, and immaterial humping orgies.  The titles on the other hand are brimming with literary genius.

I propose that the most meaningful nude photographs will never be seen.  They are not meant for our eyes.  Like the rare cabinet cards of old, the human body, on occasion, is captured freely and given as a offering to the lover.  The chosen photographer not only play the important role as architect but also the role of a gate keeper.  What passes between lovers is best left silent. 

Art doesn’t need a large audience to impact the world.  It is content to be held by just one mind.

Second - Dignity

There is a certain quiet dignity in all artistic nudes.  Their beauty is not held captive by empty eroticism.  Their beauty is a divine reflection of a higher form. 

Nude photographs are erotic by nature, there is no denying that, but through art, the eroticism doesn’t devour and consume itself.  It transcends itself and shares something universal about the human condition.

The artistic poses can be empowering, vulnerable, seductive, inviting, soulful, and unifying. 

They do not humiliate, abuse, manipulate, exploit, or monetize.

The early photography magazines were full of nudes. 

The 20’s and 30’s openly embraced and celebrated the naked body.  We were  back again in the garden of Eden, as though nothing ever changed.  Then it did.

Totalitarianism.  Social Nationalism.  Puritanism.  Religious Zealotry.  Something.  Something changed.

The day was lost.  Art was bound and gagged by commerce. 

We have not swung back yet but it would be a shame if we didn’t try.  If we don’t, our insatiable dignity as artists this generation will be forgotten, and undiscovered.  All effort will be submerged beneath the ashes of the Roman Empire, and other artistic epochs.

Third – Experience

The mindset and experience of the beholder seems to be the most important dimension. 

We seem very divided and are pulled apart by two opposing forces. 

We either feel that we are free, unconditionally, and without limit.  And we heap the word art on anything that suits our purpose, or we are frozen in fear, struck by some false moral obligation.  An empty compulsion to wrestle the world into submission.  To fit the ocean, into our own little rusty jar, simply because we are afraid to be consumed by its vastness.

It’s your mindset. 

It’s your experience and ignorance.

You see dirty things because you want to see dirty things.  You see the joy of curves and shadows wrap themselves around the body of a beautiful woman, because you want to see them.

All words have no meaning.  They are bricks of concrete.  They are not a home.

Words are empty vessels that are made up of letters that signify nothing.  Nothing, until someone comes along and decides to empower them with meaning.  It is our experience that guides our perception.  Our lives dictate what we see and don’t see.  Our past failures incite us to be blind.

In the final analysis, none of what I have written here today really matters.  As I reread this, I have a compelling urge just to erase it all and write something about the coming of spring.  This is full of grammatical errors, erroneous philosophical suppositions, and after all, who writes a reflection about porn?

I will share my thoughts anyway.  I will live with the fear and trembling.  I’ll let you decide what sense, if any to make of this.

My intent was simple.  I desired to start a conversation.

I love art and the vulnerable curves, immersed in shadows.

I believe in the healing beauty of the human body.

I think it’s time to swing the pendulum back.

 


see everything, overlook much, correct a little

 

You must leap.  

You have no choice but to leap.

I am sorry to tell you, but there is simply no other way.  Some things don't change without diving off a cliff.

If you smoke for example, I don't deny your painful addiction, or that the cancer sticks you devour were designed to create a life long supply of repeat customers.  There is no reason to pretend however, that we both don't know how it will end.  It is time to quit.  There is no reason to bullshit anyone.  I am your perfect unadulterated nobody, and I realize that I'm not minding my own business, but there is no denying your early and painful death.

One day, in the not so distant future, on a foggy Wednesday, you will be laying restless or exhausted in an uncomfortable hospital bed, gasping for air.  That in itself is not enough to give you the courage you need so you can finally leap.  You have seen the uncomfortable moment of epiphany play in your mind on several occasion before, time and time again, although you probably have to push it away.  If you give it time to live and grow however, you will be able to see all the people that will come to say goodbye. 

It's Wednesday.  Do you see them?  Can you smell their perfume and cologne? Can you hear them whisper?  Can you see how quickly and uncomfortably they wipe away their tears?  Do you see their little, stealing glances?

Your little daughter, or granddaughter; she will certainly be there.  She is tall now, smart as a whip, and full of dreams; a bundle of life brimming with unlimited possibility.  She will undoubtedly have tears in her eyes and an inexhaustible pain in her heart; hoping, praying, for a little more time.  She will be desperately hoping for the break of day, for a chance to spend another morning in your presence.  She wants more time, because words are never enough.  There are never enough memories, never enough time, and she needs you to know how much she loves you.  She wants to know how much you love her.  All she wants, is a few more seconds, some more stolen moments, a chance to hold your withered hand.  She doesn't want to you go.

You do see how this ends, don't you?

There is no time.  You must leap.

 

Thankfully, we don't live our whole life on a cliff and I'm grateful that we don't leap too often.  There is so much that we get right about living.  There is much to be proud of.  There is so much that gives us hope and consolation. 

It is important to reflect daily, and be indebted the choices and experiences that have shaped us.  We must continue moving forward.  Standing still, brings us closer to the next cliff. 

This is the formula I discovered and use, when I'm on solid ground, and I don't have to leap.

 

see everything  -  overlook a great deal  -  correct a little

 

see everything

It is never a good thing to be stupid because ignorance takes very little time and effort.  That is a lie.  I think it takes more effort to become an imbecile.  There is a definite shortage of idiot, and only the very brave heed the call.  Wisdom on the other hand demands a tremendous cost and requires an exhaustive effort. 

It is important to see everything. 

You have to hear the compliments.  You have to hear the criticisms.  You have to feel the pain and joy, feel the lows and the highs.  We have to know what the elected or appointed leaders of our countries are doing, and we must be aware what our friends and neighbours are grumbling about. 

See everything.  Ignorance is not blissful.  It will sing you a lullaby and imprison your soul.

 

overlook a great deal

I know we don't want to, but we have to look away. 

We cannot save the dogs or kittens in the animal shelters that have been betrayed by their owners.  We have to look away as they are killed today.  We cannot help the woman who will be struck across her face.  We cannot heal the swollen eye that was numbed with a violent fist.  We cannot hug a child enough, who is being teased so much, that he is making plans to hang himself.  There is no way to connect with the young woman who feels so fat and ugly, that she makes cuts on her wrists in a futile attempt to feel human.  She just wants the thoughts in her head, which swarm like black flies, relentless and unforgiving, to disperse if only for a brief moment.

We have to overlook a great deal.  We have to overlook much.

We cannot shoulder the burden of everything without collapsing under its weight.

 

correct a little

We must know.  We must overlook much, but we cannot stand and wish it away. 

We cannot stand and be numb.

It is not enough to say 'I'll pray for you' or 'I'm sorry for your loss'.  How are thoughts and prayers going to reach me and help me anyway?  It is a nice sentiment, but sentiments die a very quit death. 

Make the effort, come over and bring me a beer.  Sit and listen for a while without judgement, and perhaps, for a tiny little moment, your presence might be able to make a small difference.

We must correct just a little.

We much change a little bit.

A little.  Not a lot. 

We must move under the cover of darkness.

We must execute our actions in minutes, not days...

 

Read for only twenty minutes a day.  Pray or meditate for five.

Complain less by ignoring those that gossip, but only on Tuesday evenings.

Don't quit television, but watch it with a renewed purpose.  Pick shows you like and watch them.  Ignore the shows that you have no interest in, but you watch because they are on, and in a perverse way, you think you are actually accomplishing or learning something.

Write in a journal for 10 minutes, and in point form.

Don't join a gym, but walk your dog for 10 extra minutes. 

But I don't have one, then why not rescue one? 

Don't write a 120,000 word novel in one month.  Write it, 120 words at a time, but write every day.  In less than three years, you will publish it and be the novelist you've always dreamed about.

Don't become an artist, experiment.

Don't become a master, live the life of a student.

Don't quit. 

 

Try.

Try a little.

 


family day

 

Today is Family Day and I am very grateful for this opportunity to spend time with our little critters. When I was growing up, we did not have Family Day, we had something better, it was called Sunday.

This is not meant as an opportunity to debate and yell at each other over the importance or the futility of going to church.  Put on your big girl pants, and your big boy shirt, and make up your own mind.  Lead your own life. 

Sunday, once had a great importance, in a social context.  I think as a society, we lost something when we allowed commerce unlimited access to our lives, and I think we are paying a heavy price.

There was a time, not that long ago, when no one went to work on Sunday.  Ok, maybe not everyone.  Some work had to get done.  Farmers had to farm.  Soldiers had to soldier on.  Doctors had to heal.  But generally, the vast majority of businesses were closed, except for a few restaurants, coffee houses, and a few movie theatres.

What was the cost to society? 

Shop owners did not earn their keep that day, but it would be somewhat erroneous to assume that the money did not have the opportunity to flow into their pockets during the other six days of the week. 

What was the benefit?

Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, had nowhere to go.  They could all stay home.  The had the freedom to irritate each other for a full, uninterrupted day.  There was no need to sell another big gulp, make more French fries, or wonder aimlessly through a mall looking to buy something, anything.

What is the cost today? 

We work all year long, through all the seasons, except for a short, mandated vacation.  It’s different of course if you are lucky enough to grind out a higher education degree, and secure yourself a professional post.  If you’re a teacher or an accountant this doesn’t apply to you, but you should at least be able to see the value of having a Sunday to yourself.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone had that opportunity?

For most people, the reality is painful.  Work is hard and it is only a job.  Sit here, move this, reorganize that, restock this, and swipe that.

I’m no economist, and often wonder who the hell I am to speak on any subject for that matter, but it seems to me, some of the angst we face today is self-made. 

What would happen if we allowed people the opportunity to reconnect with their family on at least one day of the week and not just a special occasion?  What if that time was always dependable and expected?

Do we really need an oil change on Sunday?  Can we not make our own coffee? (I can see some angry snarls now).  Can we not buy a bag of Ruffles from Walmart on Saturday, instead of Sunday? 

Maybe we should sober up Sunday instead of buying another six pack.

I’m not advocating a national movement to halt work on Sunday.  I am just wondering if we are better for it.  Maybe some brighter minds can examine or hypothesize if this unbridled commercial society we have created is making us any happier.

Happy Family Day!

That is if you are lucky enough not to go to work.