Looking Down The Path, I Knew It Wanted Me To Come Closer…

Copyright - Grant Waddell

I have always had a love affair with everything that wasn’t the city. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of city life – being able to get a six pack or jug of milk on a moments notice. But the escape is what I have always loved. As a child, I spent hours by myself in the woods feeling a deep contentment and inner calm that most children today don’t get to experience. I attribute this to my father, who loved the outdoors as well – camping, skiing, canoeing and small hikes.I was always off into the deep woods with an inner confidence and love that pervaded my being. At peace by myself – never lonely as I had the best friend I could have ever found.

This is where my creativity was nurtured. My mind was free to wander and dream. Walk among the trees, look up in awe at the mountains, the warm sunlight and the sounds of the wind and birds helped create visions that made me smile as I lay on my back looking up into the canopy.

But then things changed…

There was a point in the last few years where my life as I had known it collapsed out from under me. I fell hard. And when I came to metaphorically, I had lost that love and that security. Going to the mountains brought a sad feeling and as you can imagine, brought  unbelievable internal conflict. What the hell! I can still feel the openness, a yearning for the connection, but at the same time, a smothering pain that draws off the memories off a different time.

Creativity, unfortunately vanished to sadness and a deep depression that I never thought I would survive.

Up Heart Creek

What I was surprised at, was how I still felt the pull. 

Amazingly, I was compelled to go out again and again, to paint, walk, write, take pictures, or lay in a hammock and read. Like an old friend who takes your hand and says “everything is going to be ok, you can trust me”.

Trust now, is something I find elusive. But day by day, those I love most will still be there, coaxing me forward, those who know the deepest parts of my story, stand beside me. My defences are slowly coming down. My connection to my friends, family and the natural world are deepening thank God. I know it will take time, patience and a practice of active engagement to wear away the sharp edges of a story that will always be there. To allow myself to open up and allow an old friend back inside.

Sam Train Tracks

As an artist who has always loved the the spiritual nature of the landscape, I have a ways to go with my dear companion – to peel away this strange sadness and feel that innocence I felt not so long ago. I just have to keep moving forward. To keep painting, writing, and taking pictures.

Art, in whatever shape it takes will be the way I honour my relationships, regain the trust in myself and those things closest to me and make each day and each creation something I can be proud of and I can proudly say that after 28 years, I have started painting again. I am on my way!

The Farm

The Walking Dead…

I was watching The Walking Dead tonight and Michonne who plays a sword wielding Zombie killer, was having a dream about a normal life. Maybe from her past as a flashback or maybe not. She was in a beautiful white kitchen making dinner for a friend and her “lover” Mike . They discuss not staying in camp or going out “there” and Mike says, “Where is the happy ending here? “This isn’t life”. Then asks “whats the answer?”, and his friend replies back, “whats the damn question?!” Michonne tries to ignore the comments and her dream turns nasty when she looks up and sees the two men sitting with there arms hacked off like her “pets”. She screams…

I sat there with my ginger ale, thinking, heres a show about a bunch of people who used to have lives with families, friends, jobs, houses, chores, hobbies, and pets. A show about the loss of everything they thought important and the simple struggle to survive. There have been others who have written about this subject, Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” comes to mind. No zombies but the struggle for survival and the loss of familiarity.

And, without much effort, my inner voice said, “hmmm…Thats depression”. That same loss of the familiar coupled with little if any hope. And I thought about what Mike said “This isn’t life”. As in, the loss of what we all consider the normal experience of happiness through the way we interact with our surroundings, families and friends that we find comfortable and/or meaningful. I mean, imagine taking away everything that you work for everyday? The reason you get up in the morning and there are no other options, no other jobs, no cars, houses or resorts to visit in the winter. Once you remove the trappings of our modern world and the constant way we are taught to achieve this dream at all costs, what’s left? Do you suddenly have no reason to live? Of course not, but it really made me think about our purpose, and how the dissolution in the belief of that purpose can cause disparity. 

What is life? Well, I guess life is what we have since we have a beating heart. Living is a different thing; it’s what we do while our heart beats. When you distill it down, we human beings are all all the same. Our blood is red and our bones are white.  We live, we die.

So whether you live in a beautiful condo with a giant mortgage, an apartment on a small subsidy, or are running around in a post apocalyptic world trying to find a safe place to live, or are inside the walls of your troubled mind, it’s simply survival. 

What makes it bearable, and has the ability to bring us real happiness are the connections to each other that we make along the way. Our need for love and friendship. Everything else means… quite literally, nothing. 

So, where’s your happy ending?

The Three Directions… or Depression, Midlife and Creativity.

New Growth

“My creative world suffered. I pretty much gave up on my chosen career – photography, to sit in a cafe in stunned silence for a very long time trying to make sense of it all.”

I’ve been struggling lately in many different ways. And this is reflected in my blog. What started out as an outlet for my creativity, overtime took on my attempts to grasp meaning in a world that started too make little sense to me. I understood so many posts ago that the blog was going to mean something more than just words and pretty pictures. Something else was driving this. Something I couldn’t grasp. All I knew was I needed to do this. But my first attempts fell short of what it asked for. I was posting little bits and pieces of myself never fully giving of the whole.

What was I so damned afraid of?

Each little bit of myself that I picked up and put out for anyone to see was like removing stones from a large pile. One by one, until I could sense something under all the weight. Something dark, and something light. Warm and yet cold. And very powerful. It scared the crap out of me.

What was below in the spaces and cracks and shadows started to move. I began to realize that I lacked the focused attention needed to free what was there. And in many ways I questioned freeing it at all. I was very depressed, going through an upheaval that started back when I was in my mid forties and coming to a full on crisis by my fiftieth year. My creative world suffered. I pretty much gave up on my chosen career – photography, to sit in a cafe in stunned silence for a very long time trying to make sense of it all.

What you have seen here are attempts to breath life back into myself. To “see” again. In reality, this is a blog about severe depression, and a gut wrenching mid-life crisis. Too much time has passed that I don’t know which came first, and well, it doesn’t really matter anyway.

So in essence, those of you who followed me for my creative endeavours, I hope you stick around. And for those who do, you may gain some insight into the mind of an artist who will continue to struggle greatly. Watching my failures and successes, my struggles and triumphs. Mid life made me re-examine almost every decision I had ever made. Depression took away my hope and my sight. In the empty space that was left, there remained one thing. My inner passion to create.

I know I am not alone in this. We all have our demons. Connection and Creativity and the energy they give, will be what saves me. Fear and isolation has the ability to defeat me. I hope by bringing some clarity into my world through a more open examination and dialogue, will help clear away the fog that I take too much comfort in.