Monday, January 10, 2011

Canyon Reverie

I had camped overnight in Horse Thief Canyon in the Island in the Sky district of the Canyonlands in Utah. I heard a raven call from a nearby grove of cottonwood trees, his insistent "crock, crock" echoing off the red sandstone walls. The sun had just risen above the canyon walls, its first light painting the canyon’s sculpted sandstone formations. I pushed the plunger on my cable release and my Hasselblad recorded the moment.

We all find our own form of therapy, photography happens to be mine. There’s something about hiking to your destination and setting up the camera and tripod and waiting for that first light that continues to excite me. It was from this form of “therapy” that I’ve managed to integrate my creative life into my entire life and at this point my photography grows as I grow, whether it's me hiking down a canyon, walking on the beach, writing a blog or shooting in my studio.

I think it's safe to say that too many artists get caught up in the idea of being "creative". The idea that we have to "do" something to access our creativity, or we have to "be" something or "try" to be creative. In my experience however, true creativity is more of a result of "undoing" rather than doing.

We're usually generating so much of our own thoughts, concerns, expectations, desires and judgments that there's literally NO room for divine inspiration. True creativity only comes when a space is created. However, emptying ourselves of all that "extra" stuff that we usually think IS "us", is often challenging and sometimes confronting. Like every other worthwhile pursuit, creating this space takes practice.

In his first book, The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda, Castaneda and Don Juan have a perfectly wonderful dialog together on the business of ‘not doing’ as opposed to ‘doing.’ Don Juan tells Castaneda that he must learn to ‘not do.’ Castaneda says, how do I not do? Life is doing. Yes, that’s precisely the problem. Everything that you do is based on something you already know. It has already been handed to you. Everybody is doing according to a formula and that’s what keeps it all in place. This is all too obvious. Not doing means that you’re aware that that process exists and you step away from it in order to see clearly. The ability to be free, from that process, even though you are a part of it, enables you to ‘see.’ Then it’s not difficult at all. Then the essence becomes available!

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