Rough Waters

“Rough Waters”, self-portrait taken in Brazil, April 2017, background from Iceland (2015).

I am so worried all the time that I will never again create something that is meaningful to me. I spend days thinking and thinking, hours staring at blank walls. My husband walks into my office as I’m sat in the middle of my floor, staring. He backs out slowly. There is nothing to say to me. I am within myself, brooding.

I travel through Brazil and teach workshops. At some points I feel like a fraud. I teach, but I feel stuck. The best I can do is be honest about that with the students. I tell them I know my process but that what I will do next is out of my reach.

I drive through Brazil to a remote location with my dad. I come up with a new novel idea that excites me so much I can hardly sleep. I excitedly chat to my husband about it and he adds even better details. I wake up wanting to write, but I look around at my surroundings and I feel guilty. I am looking out over a huge river, a myriad of birds and vegetation, and an old, crumbling house that I call home for a few days. Why don’t I take pictures?

As I watch the water I begin to see the metaphor emerging. There is a cure to the unknown in it. The key, I see so clearly, is not to hold on to inspiration tightly. It is to know when to let go.

As an artist, we should not seek to contain our inspiration. We should seek to know when we are riding a wave and when we are trying to catch one. Or, simply, when we are in calm waters awaiting a storm.

Right now I see my photography as a wave I am trying to catch. I paddle hard and fast but each time it comes I miss it. The wave isn’t right. That wave was meant for someone else. I sit and wait again, I try again, and still it is wrong. I feel like I’m not on water at all, but some dried up space that leaves me wedged between rocks. There is maturity in recognizing this process. There is peace in it. I find acceptance of the self in giving permission to wait for the right wave.

My change in mind is a beautiful thing. It means I have moved on to another level of creating. No longer am I satisfied with easy concepts and beautiful locations. I want something more than cheap clicks. I desire to be challenged.

I am sitting looking at the river. It is constantly changing. It is never the same river at any two moments. This is why I have always been connected to my name. I am constantly changing. I am chasing myself into new forms. I may not even be me, anymore.

Now I’m home, finishing these thoughts after having created. I did explore Brazil, and I did take pictures. I was inspired, all at once knowing that what I would create would not be my best. Sometimes we do not seek to create our best work, but to create at all. Sometimes creations are stepping stones to what we are meant to do, and they are no less special despite their lack of staying power. They are beautiful in their own way.

Where are you in your creation process?
Riding a wave or trying to catch one?

 

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