The Sun…

The Long Winter

I’m feeling the cold. When I go outside I feel it gnawing at my bones and the sinew that hold those bones together. It’s not a pleasant feeling but one that comes with living in a part of that world that tilts annoyingly away from the sun for a good portion of the year. The one benefit of where we live is that that very sun sits in a brilliant blue sky free of cloud overtop a dull gray landscape. It penetrates the darkest room bouncing it’s way into every nook and every cranny and you can feel the heat, where it’s allowed to gather free of the cold north wind.

I am reminded of when we lived in Vancouver and winters were considerably different. It rained or more accurately, drizzled or even more accurately misted a good portion of the time. Oh yes, it was green and mild, but also came with its own gray dank dullness that blocked that beautiful sun. It’s as if the landscape was flipped over. The gray on top and the color below. An umbrella was almost pointless as the whole idea of an umbrella is that it provides protection from “falling” rain – a concept that is lost on mist. And cold? Oh yes, it was sometimes very cold. I don’t care what anyone says, damp cold is real. It slithers like a snake down through any opening and finds the warmest spots to curl up in.

In Vancouver, in the rain, I was glad to be inside. In Calgary in -25?  I’m glad to be inside as well.

The difference? – I don’t have all the lights on.

I think I’ll go paint.

Morning…

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

to what,

remain covered by dried leaves and bits

of things scurrying, into the dark shadows

just beyond my reach.

 

Falling Snow…

Me

Me

 

“a small figure sits, eyes closed, waiting.”

I’m sitting in Cafe Beano as has become my morning routine. The snow is falling gently outside, and I can hear the clatter of the coffee shop around me. Fragments of conversation and broken laughter, punctuate the bits of Beck I can hear over the small Bose speakers nestled in the corners of the shop. I sip my Americano and gaze out the window that’s covered in hand cut paper snowflakes, and I can’t help but think that what I long for is somewhere out there… In the simplicity of the falling snow.

And, as I have done before, I close my eyes and take my consciousness away from where I am. i travel out to the mountains and into the silence of the white forest and I become peaceful, momentarily content — remembering. But I become aware of something just outside the walls of my mind. A feeling of unease creeps up the stairs and onto the front porch, and surrounds me in a cold damp sadness. Something has gone wrong. And I drift, pulling my attention back quickly to where I’m sitting.

Why do I feel this way? After all, I grew up in the prairies but was raised in the mountains. It has always held a powerful place in my heart. A place of sanctuary. A place where I have been able to feel safe and content. A place of love and nurturing, inner kindness and self reflection. A place where I would go to simply get closer to what I might call “God” — if I can ever call it that as we have never had a very good understanding of one another. I have commonly referred to this as — the “Church of Nature”. Where I feel most connected to my spiritual self. My loving self. My creative self. I could walk and sit for hours, alone, and feel a presence unlike anything I had felt before.

But unfortunately, I’ve discovered on several day trips in the past couple of years that nature doesn’t heal me like it used to. Somethings not right in the forest. There’s a darkness that fills the cast shadows of my closest friends.

I used to believe that the forest was very quiet compared to the noise of the city. But I now know that the woods were very loud compared to the silence I feel within me now. This silence reveals only one thing. A cavernous expanse of emptiness and a small figure sits, eyes closed, waiting.

Do you ever wonder why so many of us are never truly happy or content and are in need of constant distraction…? It’s because we don’t listen to the very thing we should be listening to and should have listened to all along — Ourselves.

Because when we’re quiet – standing in a shower, laying in a meadow, looking into a fire long after everyone else has gone to bed, sitting on a hill or a bench by the river, and turn our attention inwards, that small but powerful voice speaks to us and knows truth and understanding. We’ve all heard it. Call it your gut or your intuition. It’s uncanny how we seem to just know that what it’s telling us deep down, is true. And in many ways, frighteningly frank.

But the winds of fear blow its’ message into the coldest, darkest corners of ourselves. Should you wake up and accept change? Follow your bliss? You can only hold back that ocean for so long. It’s always at your feet, erasing who you think you are, eroding your defences, rationalizations and coping mechanisms.

And it’s this tsunami of change that washes away the person I used to understand as “Grant”. The father, husband, and friend. The photographer. The man who was always light and fun, never taking anything very seriously — singing and playing guitar. How I view the world. A product of my parents and their beliefs, seeing through the lens they gave me as a child, believing this was the only way to see the world and the right way. This was the person I grew up with. The one I always believed to be…me.

And now the wave of mid-life rushes in and efficiently smooths the sand of the footprints I had left behind. This beach stretches on in both directions, but with no record of me being there. I can clearly see where I have been, and can clearly see where I am going, but I have no sense of who it was who walked before, and who it is who walks now.

This metamorphic change has begun to show me someone else. Another, that has been with me the whole time. The quiet voice. The one that speaks to me when I’m alone. Compassionate, and so very very patient — sitting quietly and waiting.

I stare out at the snow again.

I begin to understand that everything I used to seek comfort in, has become quiet for a reason. It has not abandoned me, but is waiting for me, so I can experience the true solitude and stillness of a mind letting go. It’s a little overwhelming, and very frightening. We are so used to the white noise of our lives that we don’t hear it any longer. Don’t understand that we have become numb and spiritually distant, and that our pointless daily routines are there by the choices we have made for our whole lives. But we feel powerless to change it.

In this silent space I will find my own answers. Answers that don’t come from my family, my friends, or my fears, or what I have read or believed before, or from any group, organization or institution.

I will find these answers within myself. And I will begin to realize the most important aspect of all of this…

That I have a choice.

And in that choice lies…

my Self

The Creative Soul…

Creativity copy2

 

“Creativity makes what it makes, does what it does, and fully understands that we see our true beauty reflected in works that reveal our deepest selves.”

The only thing that I have ever known for sure is that I am creative. It has been, is, and always will be. It is the only constant thread in the entirety of my existence. It is a dear companion and, I used to believe, a dreaded enemy. One that I have a caressed lovingly and stabbed repeatedly in the heart. It has loved me deeply, and has left me bloody and bruised. It will offer a hand up the last challenging pitch of a frightening mountain climb, only to let me fall to the self critical rocks below. The resulting recovery, very painful and slow.

To let creativity be what it is meant to be, we need to understand that the truly creative person, holds their creativity close to their soul. Lets it flow from deep within and lets it produce from a place that is so connected to this “creative other” that we can feel it as if it were a living breathing entity within us. It taps deep into a place we have rarely, if ever met. That makes our senses draw in experience, and lets creation begin, naturally and without question. No internal judgment. Creativity makes what it makes, does what it does, and fully understands that we see our true beauty reflected in works that reveal our deepest selves.

Sounds airy fairy, I know, but I don’t believe it’s a skill that we are born with. We develop the skills to satisfy the insatiable hunger of these creative musings. I believe this creative force lies in us all. Some have natural talent, some have to develop it. Some don’t acknowledge it, give it a voice for the fear that they won’t be good enough. I used to say to my son when he said “I can’t draw” that we all have drawings in us, that we won’t like, and you simply have to “draw them all out of you” till nothing but the drawings you like remain. Simply practice.

Cook, draw, paint, garden, knit, write, sing, and play as much as it takes to get better at your craft. Honour it.

Creativity is one of the greatest gifts we have ever been given. It is a part of who we are. It is everywhere. We hear it, smell it, taste it, feel it, and see it. It is not an enemy or dreaded foe, but a gifted friend. It draws inspiration from it’s experiences and surroundings. What we listen to and what we see. What it teaches us about ourselves. What it reveals about our vulnerabilities and insecurities. And, if allowed, contributes to our ever growing self expression, and to the creativity of those around us fortunate enough to experience our journey. And maybe, just maybe, give them the courage to embark on their own.

—————

What does creativity mean to you?