If only the light of silence
lit upon the dark
and seeing into that, which
would simply remain unseen.
Then I could reason the pain
grit my teeth,
grind my intuition into dust
and drop to my knees in gratitude.
Then I would be, free…
If only the light of silence
lit upon the dark
and seeing into that, which
would simply remain unseen.
Then I could reason the pain
grit my teeth,
grind my intuition into dust
and drop to my knees in gratitude.
Then I would be, free…
The morning, breathless and scented,
lifts up upon my weighted soul and turns gently
with a kiss too soft.
And holding tender, seeks a word
or simple gesture that says things
that will always be left unsaid.
An embrace of a moment where the answers
remain covered by dried leaves and bits
of things scurrying, into the dark shadows
just beyond my reach.
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?
“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.
Winters cold wind spreads across a field of summer fallow,
as snow falls gently,
softly tapping on shoulders that have bourn so much,
and whisper cold memories of warmer times.
Landing on tongues, as we giggled,
and caught the low January sun through a dappled forest light,
shimmering as it fell on its way
to the dance floor,
the flash of light and the beat of my heart to the rhythms of this one,
And in the grey of my voice calling out to this wind,
and the frigid illusions of these now, tepid dreams,
I am unable to move.
And staring out to what, I’m not sure,
hidden by layers of lies, I can only imagine what awaits.
And with this knowing doubt, I am frozen in my own fear.
Feet always moving towards a simple end,
but a mind stationary, and unable to reconcile the truths of where I am…
And more simply,
Moving slowly at first the subtle sway feels soothing as the clack clack of track under steel wheels, begins to form those familiar rhythms that seem so far back in my memory. As if being held by my mother in the maple wood rocking chair so long ago.
And out the window, things that are closest to me blur into shades of brown, light against dark. I focus on the horizon, seeing dreams in the distant haze, but always on the edge,
The sway, dangerous and unnerving, brings panic. I look around and see others looking out their glowing laptop windows, heads down, at reruns of Honey Boo-Boo and Keeping up with the Kardashians, hyperlinking to dreams of cars, houses and shoes.
In a trance, on track, to a better life…
And I begin to realize what this really means…
And I want off
“Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.”
― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
[Apologies to those who saw this already but WordPress somehow took my published post and unpublished it and reverted it to draft]
What did I believe?
Why did I believe it?
Why was I a photographer?
A father? A husband?
Not go to church but consider myself highly spiritual?
Love nature, as if it were… in my soul?
And many more questions.
This is a long post, but if you’ve ever felt disconnected, have experienced great loss, gone through a life threatening condition, mid life crisis or simply questioned what life is about I encourage you to read through it.
It has been awhile since I really posted something that I found true to the reason that I created this blog. It’s very simple… my father passed away, and shortly after that my stepmother as well. Both great figures in my life. Grieving is such a strange thing to go through. You not only have the loss of life that is very close to you, but you also have the loss of the parts of you that used to be rock solid. Things that seemed important no longer are. The lives of those around you just keep moving along. And so many questions arise.
My dad passed away four months ago, and my stepmother a month after that. I started writing this on April 4th…my 50th year. It’s some exploration of an area of existence that I’m not sure there’s an answer for. Not one that I’ve found anyway.
Here we go…
In the wake of my father and stepmothers’ passing, and under the microscope of my own mid-life passage, and self reflection, I have been left with several questions about what the hell we’re doing here and what purpose we have other than generating an income and consuming. How do our belief systems play into how we interpret and interact with our world, and what if you question your core values during these times, and, as in my case, they appear to completely abandon you.
In “The Garden” I wrote about how we can’t fully know how much of what we feel and believe, can be relied upon as being “born within us” and how much of it is imbued upon us through family, friends, society, religion, and culture. A road that we are set on, wearing carefully crafted glasses, that shape our world views and, our “personal” beliefs, and our prejudices. What would these glasses reveal, if we were born and raised in Canada, Bangladesh, or the Sudan. Ours views on family, love, hate, God, religion, a meaningful life, and the afterlife would all be shaped differently.
Initially, this is not a choice. We are indoctrinated very early in life from very well meaning people. It is only when, with age and maturity and curiosity, we may begin to challenge, ask questions and seek out our own answers, and simply ask…
“Why do I believe that”?
“What do I believe?
Some of you may never ask this question, but for those who look deep, and really examine whats at the heart of “Self,” you may begin to understand just how much (or how little) influence others have had on shaping who you believe yourself to be. And maybe, begin to understand the nature of who you really are, and possibly, the reasons for the quality of your perceived existence.
So, as I left the hospital on both occasions, and drove home, a growing sense of frustration and unease crept over me. Images and thoughts flashed quickly. Family, and friends, my beliefs, and theirs, my father, and his positive and negative impact that he had on me. Things I have achieved and not achieved, and how everything fits with what I have discovered from my quiet, and sometimes very emotional, and not so quiet introspection.
As I kissed the forehead of my dying father and held the hand of my passing stepmother, I could slowly see the shadow of my own mortality lengthening. And I couldn’t stop thinking about the passage of life and what purpose, if any, there is, or was, or could be. What had their lives meant? Did they feel they lived a life that ultimately mattered to themselves and others? Was it fulfilling? What about regrets? Would they have done things differently? Would it have made a difference? Did they even think about it? I began to compare where I was to where they were, and examine where I fell short. I think it’s normal to use those around you as yardsticks. And then I thought to myself, does it really matter.
In the days that passed, I would go about a simple routine. I would wake up, enter the world of the busy masses, and observe. At cafe’s, and restaurants, on the street as people hustled by on their way to the next meeting. Stuck in traffic to and from work. And it just seemed so unbelievably pointless. You grow up, go to school, get a good job, get married, have kids, go to work. Work for decades, and in that time, acquire things. Take a few holidays, work some more, acquire even more, and finally retire. Hopefully with your health so you can enjoy the time you have left. All that was expected of you. Make mom and dad proud. Conform to what we were all taught as children and teens as the “right path”. That’s all fine and nice as long as it truly reflected who you were. You loved your life from beginning to end with few questions. Became what you always dreamt of. But, what if you became an engineer because that’s what was expected, but you really wanted to be an artist. Chose friends and a lifestyle and created a persona based on what you believed society expected of you. Got married because, that’s what your family expected, time was ticking, but you knew they weren’t “the one” and sadly, stayed this course your entire life. The end, would come very, very differently, and very sadly.
So………. How much of who I believe myself to be, is really me? How much is my father and mother and stepmother? How about the rest of my family and friends, and experiences I’ve had ?
Who am I?
What did I believe? Why did I believe it? Why was I a photographer? A father? A husband? Play guitar? Not go to church but consider myself highly spiritual? Love nature, as if it were, in my soul? And many more questions.
The only thing I knew for sure was, I was born to be creative, curious, and ask questions. I had done so since I could talk, walk, and look up at night sky with wonder. Walk in the forest, down trails, and feel the sun on my face. Look up at the mountains, or sit and listen to a creek, ocean surf or the wind in the trees and stare into a campfire and see my ancient self in it.
I learned to never take what someone told me as truth until I examined as many sides as possible, and make my own conclusions. This involved my religious and political beliefs and several other areas of life that are given to you as a gift from your family as you are raised.
But, one persons truth does not have to be your own. It all comes down to choice. That was one of the best things my father taught me. Question things. Simply apply curiosity and seek knowledge.
So, in classic style, I began the process of asking questions within myself and was having a hell of a time even coming close to what this all meant. Like trying to step on your shadow. Maybe it was simple grieving. A natural response to losing two people within a very short that were very close to me.
I held off posting this because I wasn’t able to really complete what I had set out to do. To fully grasp, what I was trying to convey or answer. As my eyes opened wider and I asked more questions, I couldn’t find the comforting answers and understanding that I had come to expect from exploration. I didn’t find peace. And maybe that’s what we were never meant to find. Draw the curtain back and reveal that life is more than we thought. And maybe the tension we feel from time to time is when we realize that the life we are living may be an illusion. When I achieve this or that, make enough to buy that thing, then I’ll be happy. Tomorrow, I’ll be happy. But this is always a moving target. The promises of happiness and fulfillment never really appear. You play the game and achieve what you think you need and generally it will never be enough. And then you realize, something fundamental is missing. Something… This is where I fall down. Whats is it thats missing? Whats left?
Tune out the noise…
I began to understand that “life” as we know it is noisy. Full of work, kids, TV, Facebook, Twitter, and yes blogs and so much more that we engage in, ultimately add nothing to who we are. But we think it’s so important. It’s not. It’s such a waste of time and as I’ve started to understand, time is precious. It distracts us from what’s really important and when you realize it, it’s painful. And I guess it’s for that reason we do it. To distract ourselves from our possibly stark realities and not face that pain. Because in many cases it means turning several aspects of your life upside down and how do you start over from that?
I have been talking for so long. Listening to the opinions of friends and family, reading the teachings and opinions of others and examining theological explanations and I will never find the answers from any of these sources. They’re are all disparate opinions. Nothing more. I’m not going to find what I’m looking for amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life or the noise of living.
And this is when it dawned on me. It was in what I wrote earlier.
“The only thing I knew for sure, I was born to be creative, curious, and ask questions. I had done so since I could talk, walk, and look up at night sky with wonder. Walk in the forest, down trails, and feel the sun on my face. Look up at the mountains, or sit and listen to a creek, ocean surf or the wind in the trees and stare into a campfire and see my ancient self in it.”
Maybe part of what I’m looking for is as simple as that. For it is only in the quiet of the mountains and forests, or looking at the ocean or up at the moon in that beautiful night sky and looking into that campfire that whatever it is, feels closest. In that peace and silence it speaks to me without saying a word. I will never pretend to know. It is far to big for any of us to truly understand. But I feel truly connected to it when I silence what we have created as our normal and expected human path. As an an Agnostic (Sorry Ayn) this is the closest I will ever come to knowing what God is. I think this is where I’ll find my answers. Not from the internet, not from noted experts, not from friends and family and not from books. I will find my answers by simply sitting quietly and tuning out and unplugging, and letting the silence of nature and solitude speak to me. Maybe this is why I’m driven to explore that trail, climbing through the difficult parts till you come across something that takes your breath away. Places where many others would have stopped just short of the parking lot or the fading internet connection and never had that experience.
In a strange way, it’s much louder than the white noise of life and maybe thats what frightens some of us away from it. It doesn’t come with easy answers. I comes with a deep sense of calm and knowing without anything being said. A voiceless conversation between yourself and the flowing sense of awe that surrounds everything in this wonderful universe. It’s there all the time, it always has been. It always will be.
It is pure wisdom. And we just need to tune into it a little more while we still can.
The shadow cast
on this moonless night
by ravens black
it’s wings spread wide in the expanse
as it glides silent towards shimmering curtains
draped over northern hills.
Oh this night I will wear tucked under my chin
with it’s seam held tight to my chest with clenched fists
and wait for the first rays of this, another day
to warm the weave of it’s black chill.
Another video that reflects what I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks…
Wandering around inside my mind,
A garden holds memories.
Each a blade of grass,
an insect buzzing one of many flowers.
To white walls and loving eyes we are brought into this world,
where unseen hands tend new experience
that thrusts instantly towards the open clear skies.
Our minds lush with planted beliefs and seeded memory,
and fed by the warm light of laughter
or the cool rains of gray days, they flourish and spread,
or curl and become distant.
And for a time we sit, and hold our ground,
stake out our spot on the grass amidst the Trembling Aspens and shout out to the world,
But as we lay back and look up at the leaves shimmering in the wind and sun we wonder,
how much of this garden
She stands at waters edge, leaning into the cool morning air…waiting for him to return. Stepping onto the dock and into the sun, she can hear water lapping and birds in the trees across the lake, their calls echoing over the still water. Snapping turtles rest on a partially submerged log, wary of passing boats and the bullfrog croaks loudly from some reeds to her left and she wonders if they really do taste like chicken like she’d heard. The smell of burning Alder wood hangs in the air and reminds her of, those days.
He wades back into her thoughts. Hands pressed to her lips, then open palms towards winters lake.
He’s been gone too long…
“Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment when the wave realizes it is water” (Thich Naht Hanh)
You cannot separate the wave from ocean like you can a brick from a wall.
The lightning burst from the grey overcast sky lighting up pure darkness. The air, forced out in every direction leaving only, the suffocating vacuum. I wait for deafening thunder, but it doesn’t come, only silence – GW
Thats the best way I can describe it. I had a series of events that happened and without going into detail, everything I held as dear and familiar, was blown away from me in all directions. I am waiting for them to return. Nature, Music, Photography, Spirituality, my Personal Relationships and much more. My MLC had hit it’s highest point. The pain was incredible. I oddly found that the things I took my greatest joy from had become to painful to take in. I couldn’t listen to music, pick up the guitar, take a picture, or look at nature or even my home the same way. My vacuum was suffocating. I didn’t understand what was happening or what had happened. I felt completely lost. The catalyst was not gentle, the transformation violent.
Many months have passed now. Lots of reading, lots of talking. The sharp edges of life have started to be worn down and some of the things that were blown away in the storm are starting to return. It was in these months of self examination and introspection that I came to understand that creativity is my heart and my soul, and I had neglected my true creative energy for a very long time. I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in 28yrs. Sketched something for pure pleasure like I used to. Simply, let go. It’s very hard to do. It’s vulnerable. It’s laying your soul on the line, and letting others see it. Am I good? Bad? Does it matter? Shouldn’t I just do it for me? Do I need to please other people I have never met? Validation? What is it?
I would love to know what you think. What holds us back from becoming who we are? Tell me…
WE CANNOT LIVE THE AFTERNOON OF LIFE ACCORDING TO THE LIFE’S MORNING; FOR WHAT WAS GREAT IN THE MORNING WILL BE LITTLE AT EVENING, AND WHAT IN THE MORNING WAS TRUE WILL AT THE EVENING HAVE BECOME A LIE. – Carl Jung
My MLC as I’ll call it from now on was a very slow process. It took about four years to fully develop. I’ve done a lot of reading about it and a lot of writing. I filled several journals that, after reading them could see the slow changes that were starting to gain traction and have a greater and greater influence on who I was and who I was becoming. I was one of the lucky few who managed to get the one mosquito that gave me West Nile Neurological which is the worst form of the disease you could get. My father who was the primary influence in my love for nature was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He was on the decline. I started to re-evaulate everything in my life. The decisions I had made about my career etc, which is pretty normal for an MLC. Your inner self, the person your were always meant to be (your soul) and not the one you thought you were supposed to be (your ego) based on what your parents wanted or on what society dictated, starts to push back when facing mortality. The doctor who was meant to be a carpenter, the carpenter who was meant to be a vet, the vet who was meant to be a classical pianist. You have everything that you want, a lovely wife/husband, great kids, a great home and comfortable standard of living.
But… your miserable… and then you ask, “what am I doing with my life?” The signs that you hung around your neck that you thought defined who you were to everyone around you begin to mean nothing and fall away. Things that you thought were important, no longer are. The way in which you see and feel the world changes.
You are making the transition to Authenticity.
A journey back to yourself.
One of the most amazing things I think I have ever seen. I think if someone could create an art installation that showed what my soul looked like, it would look like this!
Magic Carpet – Daniel Wurtzel (click to watch the video)
A little background. I was never good at math although I wanted to be. Loved biology because I could draw the best diagrams ever! Chem, physics, nope… English, Social Studies? Ya… a bit. But ART?
I painted and drew always. I picked up the piano (by ear) at an early age. Anything that stimulated my creativity. It was out of high school and onto Art College. A year of general studies to find out what I liked and then three years of study in a particular field. Painting was going to be my gig. I’d been doing it forever so, I thought it was a no brainer. A year later, I asked myself, “Can you make a living at this?” I didn’t think I could so… enrol in photography. There’s a career choice. Commercial Photography. Leave painting behind, (the first big mistake) I graduate three years later and move to a large coastal city. I begin assisting and do so for eight years. Invaluable experience. Break out on my own and for the next eight years, do very well. Then it was time, move back to the city that grew up in and kick ass!
Long story short… didn’t happen. Different dynamic, different clients, different people. A wife, two kids, a house and a new dog and an ego that lay crumpled in the grass with it’s sneakers hanging from a power line, it’s backpack full of expectation heaved up on someones roof. What the … I was 42. Don’t get me wrong, I was doing “OK” but not what I had envisioned. The first years were tough, new studio and having to try to break into a smaller market that seemed like a fortress in a Tom Clancy novel. The years following were pretty good, but still… something wasn’t quite right. My soul was trying to speak to me, softly at first, but it became louder over time. Ego, pillow in hand, would try to smother soul, quietly, but ultimately, ineffective. I felt the first rumble of an awakening giant. A full on Mid Life Crisis. Or Mid Life Passage as it’s sometimes called. Softer I think, don’t you? Soul was feather spittin pissed…
More to come…
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