Fifty Things I’ve Leaned In My First 50 Years #46

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Resentment kills.

There is a saying attributed to the Buddha and it goes something like this;164155586 [Converted]

harboring a resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies .

Did the Buddha really say this? I dunno but it sure is true. I know this intimately as I sipped from the poison chalice of resentment, enjoying each drop, planning and scheming, hating. Nurturing that resentment as it were my own child. All the while, my heart shriveled just a little more and my spirit became closed to the goodness of the universe, the people I resented, went about their lives blissfully unaware that I was being consumed by the poison of resentment.Viking-chalice-from-Vale--001

I remember the first resentment I let go of. It was against a brutal man that did brutal things to my mother, sisters and myself. I held him directly responsible for her death. That is a heavy resentment to bear, especially for a 12 year old. It took twenty four years or so for me to let it go, but when I did, I felt at peace. Immediately.  The poison seeps from my soul and I was relieved that I did not have to carry that heavy heavy burden any longer.

And so it is today. I may become upset, disappointed or even angry but I don’t harbour resentment. I have much better things to do with the energy I would be expending. Truth is, I have created some of my best works only AFTER learning how to become resentment free.

 

Don’t partake of the poison chalice. So give up whatever perceived injustice or slight may have occurred and let it all go. I’m not saying to become best friends or even acquaintances I’m just saying that their paltry existence is nothing when you or I don’t give them the power to hurt us. Having said that, if the MoFo steps off the curb in front of me…

 

Fifty Things I’ve Learned In My First Fifty Years #47

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I have learned that I am a procrastinator. A damn good one too, if only I wouldn’t put off trying to be better at it. I put everything off, if I can. Ask Sarah at The Amusing Muse, she is still waiting for her birthday gift. I have it here, in fact I can see it but I just never quite get around to sending it. I could analyze why I am a procrastinator, but that would mean I would have to do something about it and quite frankly I don’t know that I would have the time to get at that right away.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not lazy per se, I just seem to put things off…and off…and off. One would think that after years of putting things off and scrambling at the last minute to complete a given project, I would have learned that getting things done in a timely manner is far less stressful.

No. I have not learned that lesson. Probably because I put it off in favour of doing something else, something else that I should have done before. Imagine, the first time I procrastinated, it set into motion a self perpetuating set of circumstance that forces me to keep procrastinating. Like I am stuck in some sort of “I’ll get around to it, loop”. Constantly putting off something in order to catch up on something else.

There is only one thing I don’t put off. My muse. When I say I will get something done, I tend to get it done. Mostly, sort of, all the time. Except for maybe that shelf in the closet. I am, therefore, quite careful about what I say I am going to do. Hell, sometimes I even act preemptively by doing shit I didn’t realize I could have put off.

Here’s how much of a procrastinator I am:

I started this post 2 weeks ago.

Fifty Things I’ve Learned In My First Fifty Years #48

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No amount of Photoshop magic can help a shitty photograph.

Seriously, if I take a poorly lit image, it is till going to suck. Yes, advances have been that allow marginal photographers that think an f-stop is a place to pull over and participate in some sort of kinky f**kery , that depth of field is how deep the well in the back 40 might be, white balance is some Caucasian with a chip on both shoulders and proper exposure is the amount of acceptable nudity one can get away with before the authorities are called, to have the false belief that they are somehow iPhone pros and can shoot cousin so and so’s wedding with the magic iPhone 5 or whatever number they are currently on.

There is, (cliche alert) still no way to “make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.” Trust me, I have tried. I have taken some images that I really needed to have but I totally screwed up, and I am here to tell you, there is no amount of image software wizardry that could help. I have to swallow my pride and go to the client, to let them know I messed up. Try telling this to an irate newlywed that paid to have that special day captured for posterity. Telling them to think of it as a warm up for the next one, not such a good idea. No amount of humour can cover up that no amount Photoshop can fix my total f*** up. This was at a time when I still shot film. Imagine the horror of opening a package to find that many of the negs are underexposed! A trauma that many of you younger folks will never be exposed to (pardon the pun). Back then, nets scanned to CD and I would be opening PS4 to see how I could undo the unimaginable.

There was nothing I could do. Nothing. And today, there is still, still nothing I can do. Sure, I have histograms, previews, fancy settings and all kinds of techno bullshit to “make me a better photographer”, fact is, if I don’t know the basics and take the time to make sure that my gear is set properly, that my lights are positioned well and that there aren’t unsightly items in the fore or background, I may take a shitty image. I do, however, have the second chance that previews offer. Assuming that this wasn’t a one off shot that won’t be recreated.

Learn the basics, take courses, practice and learn from mistakes. I still do all of those and I like to think I have honed my craft rather well. It is only when I become to cocky that the gods of the lens teach me some humility.

Usually in a way that know amount of Photoshoppery can fix.

Fifty Things I’ve Learned In My First Fifty Years – #49

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As I mentioned in the first installment, these are in no particular order.  Some of these are hings I have learned about myself and some are kernels of wisdom that I wish to share.

I have learned that I am selfish and self centred. Oft times, to the extreme. Okay, not in the extreme any longer. There was a time, however when I felt the universe revolved around me, waited with anticipation on what I had to say and once said, took Greed Road Sign - 7 Deadly Sins Seriesit as gospel. Why wouldn’t it. I was, after all, me. I wanted what I wanted and other people that had the misfortune to get in my way were cajoled, pushed or forced to acquiesce to my demands. Never once did I think that my demands were unreasonable. It was, after, me. The very fact that it was me should be enough for you to understand.

Ruined friendships, marriages, families….

Excuse me a moment, I’m getting a text.

My lovely muse says it would have been nice to have someone with her while she shopped.

I agreed

She laughed

I told her the topic of the blog I am writing.

She, gets me. I’m blessed.

ratWhere was I? Oh right, all the ruined things. Sure, my selfishness meruined many things. Me…me me me…meeeeee. I wanted more of everything. My motto during those years was; Looks like more, feels like more, tastes like more and sounds like more. More!

What happened you ask? I have to say a profound spiritual experience. I found god. Egads man. Not THAT God. I found a power greater than myself. There is a God, and I’m not it. As I was saying, not THAT god. My God is mine and mine alone. I don’t push it on people and I’m still just selfish enough that I don’t want to share my god either. Get your own, there are plenty around.

Suffice it to say that I ‘m still selfish enough that I won’t be running around bombing shit in the name of my thus far nebular, undefinable God. Plus, I’m allergic to pain and dying and shit like that.

I’m still selfish but I am striving for humility. A work in progress, you might say.

Fifty Things I’ve Learned In My First Fifty Years – #50

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Fifty years is a long time. OK, maybe not as long as seventy or eighty. It, is, however, still a long time. A sort of milestone in life. I never thought I’d make it to fifty. As melodramatic and cliche as that sounds, it is the truth. My lifestyle had much to do with that misguided thought on my mortality.

This series will be a weekly look at some of the things I have learned about myself, the people around me (in general terms) and life.  They are in no particular order, so if you are the subject of one of my lessons and you feel that it should be more important that something else, too fucking bad. Get over yourself. Fact is, I really should have made notes prior to starting this series because I am now doubting that I have may have learned fifty things. Bah, who cares?

Courtesy  Robbert van der Steeg - Wikimedia Creative Commons

Courtesy Robbert van der Steeg – Wikimedia Creative Commons

Here we go: I am a morning person. As much as I hate to admit it, I am. I love the early morning, the sunrise, the quiet hour, the golden hour. I can sit back and listen to my world awake. I am not one of those perky morning people, NO. Even I, a self confessed, morning person, would love to punch them in their smiling cake hole and yell; “would you please, please shut the fuck up for five minutes? I do not wish to hear how your cat licked your toes (or some other nonsense).”

I get my best, in most cases, work done prior to ten or eleven in the morning. I write better. I think better. I visualize better and, my mind is at it’s creative peak. I seem to formulate creative ideas better in the morning. Why? I don’t know. I just go with it. In fact, after lunch, I am a wreck. I am drawn, drained and drowsy. I think I even fall asleep at my desk. I mean, my eyes are open but my brain falls asleep. Or, maybe my eyes are closed. I’m not quite sure, I just seem to lose gaps of time. Well, at the very least, it makes the day go faster.

I was a morning person even when I pulled all nighters. Of course, ingesting copious amounts of LSD or Amphetamine didn’t hurt my early morning crusades, at least, I don’t think they did.

I loved listening to jazz at three, four or five. Not the digital jazz we have, but vinyl. The hiss and pop of that LP as the stylus hit the vinyl. Awww yea.

If I was concerned about whether I had learned fifty things in the first paragraph, the last few has triggered more. And more will be revealed.

A Clean Slate

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Not what you might think from the title. This seems like an assignment in self study. This particular post is about a room. This room, the room I am sitting in at this very moment. It was suggest that for January 13, I look at this room as if I am seeing it for the very first time.

From the room comes the psychedelic sounds of the classic album; ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd.

A set of french doors open and two steps down onto the carpeted floor bring me into a room with into a room approximately 15’x15′ with multi coloured walls of gold and burgundy. Four wall scones in each corner light the room with that fake fluorescent lighting given off by energy saving bulbs, too cool a light, I think to myself, too cool a light. There are two average windows facing south, one large picture window facing east and a large sliding glass door leading to the deck outside.

Standing just inside the doors, I see directly in front of me, next to the picture window, a paint coloured table with a large monitor, an Intuos tablet, a computer and the keyboard. On top of that computer are headphones, a video camera, and oddly out of place sits a harmonica. To the right of the table is an old leather lounge chair with it’s matching ottoman. A tear in the arm and nicks and scratches on the lacquered surfaces of the feet say, “I am a comfy and well used chair, do come and rest your weary bones, sit back and listen to the music while your mind wanders.” Next to the chair is a small round table with a laptop, an ashtray that needs emptying and an open pack of Lucky Strikes.

On the floor, propped up against the walls are canvasses and birch panels of all sizes. Finished and unfinished works of art gathering dust. Amongst the collection of art works also leaning against the wall is an easel. An easel, judging by the coating of dust on it, that seems not to have been used in some time. Next to that easel sits a tripod and a photographic studio light barn doors closed, waiting patiently to light the next model.

As I walk into the room I have to step over the sleeping Black Lab who goes by the name Santana. He stretches and opens red rimmed eyes to watch me warily. He doesn’t seem to take kindly to being disturbed from his stick chasing dreams. Quite frankly, \i don’t believe he likes being disturbed at all, dreams or not.

Turning more to the right and looking back I see a closed tall white cabinet. Atop the cabinet is a clear plastic bin containing paints and on top of that is a plastic palette and sitting atop that are two straw cowboy type hats, you know, the type that are worn by old hippies, sides curled up and the front bent way down to cover the eyes. As I turn to complete the 180 degrees, I see another tripod and another easel propped in the corner more plastic bins containing art supplies stuck in wire shelves. The bottom shelf contains books and magazines. The books range from ‘The Grateful Dead Family Album’ to ‘The Rolling Stones in Photos’ to ‘Blues Harmonica For Beginners’ to ‘Techniques For Pencil Sketching’ and then ‘Digital Camera’ magazine. On that floor are two unused canvasses awaiting the next masterpiece.

Continuing the 360 survey of the room shows me several small shelves containing knick knacks; a bottle filled with beads, a clay tile of Jerry Garcia, a small canvas of what can only be the owner of the space and his lovely muse and several candles. Just below that, on the floor, is what appears to be a basket filled with chew toys, a bucket of water and a dog dish.

With one final pirouette I turn and see, in the corner on the left side of the table is a file cabinet with a beat up old satchel type briefcase and several more canvasses tucked between the cabinet and the wall.

This rooms occupant can only be described as someone with a flair for the creative, both contemporary and traditional. Someone with eclectic tastes but definitely leaning toward the more down to earth hippyish psychedelic style. A man that may, it seems has many projects on the go at one time. One of those types that starts many and finishes few.

I can’t help but be drawn to that chair, I sit, put my feet up and lean back slightly just as the first notes of the classic song ‘Wish You Were Here’ lull me into a comfortable mindset.

My Life As A Book

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The question from the daily prompt booklet that I printed asked me; If my life were a book would I read it and if I did, It would have to be read from cover to cover.

An interesting question to which I would have to answer with a resounding NO!

book

Perhaps twenty five or thirty years ago I might have been tempted to read and perhaps edit the book, I have even tried forcing certain chapters to be the way I want them to be, with very little success. We, the collection of rabble I choose to call my brothers and sisters (I use the term rabble in the most endearing way) have a saying; If one wishes to make God/The Universe laugh, tell him/her/it your plans. We may always plan the event but we can never plan the outcome. I have learned, through many painful “growth spurts” to accept this as if it were one of the laws of physics. Having accepted this fact, I no longer worry and am free to enjoy the ride.

Let me tell you something about imagination, planning and the future.  I planned my future and it didn’t even come close to how I thought it might be. In fact, it has surpassed even my vivid and overactive imagination. I am an artist, I, therefore, have a pretty active imagination.

My “book” is already half read.

It would only serve, if I were to read the book, to draw me away from the present moment. Why on earth would I do that? Why would I give up being present to worry about something in the future? The very thought of knowing what the future holds, makes me just a bit queasy.

Whatever the future holds, it will hold and I am sure that the ending will be as happy as the beginning, the middle and the right now.not-the-end3

 

 

What’s The Fear?

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I printed it! Yes, I did. I printed the WordPress 365 Prompts. Will I use them all? Probably not. Will I use one today? Maybe.

If I were to use on today it would mean I have to face a fear. Who on earth likes to do that? Why would I write about being locked in a room with my worst fear? Why would I write about the fear that things would, at first go blurry for me, eventually cloud over, go grey and finally the awful black that I can only imagine.

Blindness is perhaps my greatest fear.blind-photogs-mexico-splash

I am a tactile person, however, it is the visual that draws me closer to the sense of touch. Without the initial visual, how would I know? Where would I go? What then, would I sense to draw me to the information I seek?

The other part of that fear is; How would I create? How would I use my camera? Would those ideas and images be stuck in my mind forever? Losing my sight would mean that would allow me to internally visualize the ideas and have them forever looping through my head.

damien-hirst-beautiful-inside-my-head-forever

Image courtesy Hypebeast

THAT is a fear almost as bad as losing my sight. That fear of being unable to articulate my creative visions is equal to the fear of going blind. I remember a time when I was trying my hardest to recover from/deal with addiction and my counselor thought I might be suffering from depression. Medication, she said, could help me with that. Medication indeed! Hadn’t she seen “A Brilliant Mind”? Would she have me become a listless zombie incapable of a creative thought? I think not. But then, she was right. I do suffer from that particular malady and I do take medication for it but I still create. She assured me I need not create from a place of darkness or chaos any longer. I love that woman.

There you have it, I did use the WordPress Prompt and I have written about, not one, but two of my worst fears. They walk hand in hand.

Visual as well as internal blindness are my greatest fears.

The Rings

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It has come to my attention that, in my last post, Married On Isla Mujeres, I had neglected to tell the story of the rings. Many people who read that post said I left out one of the most romantic parts.

Apologies to my lovely muse for that.

The rings, you see, are a reflection of our tattoos. Yes, we have relationship tattoos. They are, as you can see in the accompanying photos; two astrological symbols intertwining and embracing the yin and yan symbol. On Kat’s shoulder, she comes first and on my shoulder, I come first. This signifies that each of us needs to take care of self first so that we have enough to give to the other and the yin and yan symbolizes the opposites we are to each other and our willingness to embrace and accept those parts of each other.

Some may question the wisdom of shared tattoos. That’s your prerogative. When Kat and I first discussed the idea we decided no names but something to symbolize the relationship and should we part ways, we would both have something good to take away. As adults, we realize that it serves no useful purpose to harbour resentment or ill will.

The rings are made with the tattoos but instead of our own symbols first, she had asked Darrel Hubbell of Darrel Hubbell Goldsmith to have her tattoo on my ring and mine on hers. He called it “Reflection of You.” Thank you Darrell, you did a fabulous job!

 

Married on Isla Mujeres

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Picture this;

A cold Saturday morning just before Christmas and all across the country, hell, continent, weather is wreaking havoc on travel. Not here we say to ourselves. No way, we are prepared, we are a northern community well versed in the trials and tribulations associated with winter air travel. That may be so, but many other places are not, and the flight we needed to catch on that early Saturday morning originated from one such locale. An email was sent to us saying the flight is cancelled and we are going to be on different flight. This news brought Kathy to tears, I mean heart wrenching tears. A flood of tears. The dogs were kenneled the house was all set to be looked after, business arrangements made and time off work taken. Still, the situation, in my mind, didn’t seem to warrant the flow of tears that streamed from my muses eyes. Or, perhaps it did. Perhaps there was something I was missing. Something big. Something I would never imagined. Something so well planned I never caught on. I was oblivious.

In fact, I almost missed my own wedding and I didn’t even know it.

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That’s right, I didn’t even know it.

How, you may be asking yourself does one go about nearly missing one’s own wedding without knowing it?

It goes like this; It started as a simple winter holiday, a Christmas in Isla Mujeres. A quiet, unassuming holiday. Or so I thought. Kathy had begun planning something in October. Planning a wedding, our wedding. Kathy got the rings made, she bought a dress, ordered my shirt and pants, contacted the wedding planner, contacted the hairdresser and the photographer, hired a guitarist, ran errands regarding said wedding and paid for it all without my knowing it. That is correct, without me having even the smallest inkling of what was going to take place.

As I said, I was oblivious.

I didn’t know she had it all the pertinent regalia packed in her suitcase. I didn’t know until the day we arrived (December 23).

This is how I found out;

I was happy to be on Isla Mujeres so I was heading straight to the Caribbean Sea for a dip. Oh how glorious to float about the salty water, wander back through the pool area and into the hotel. Barefoot and happy.

Kathy had caught me in the elevator as I was returning to the room and told me she had a surprise. Of course, being a red blooded male, my mind went straight to some sort of extra curricular activity that shall remain unspoken.

It was not, it was far more fantastic. There, spread all over the bed was sand, and written in small pebbles were those immortal words, “Will you marry me?”

“Of course!” I said. “Of course!”. “Good, because being 98% sure you’d say yes, I have it planned for Christmas day!” Kathy replied.

And that, my friends, is how I almost missed my own wedding without knowing it. One more delayed flight would have sent me over the edge and I would have grabbed the luggage gotten in the truck and went home. As it was, we were delayed twice from home, put on a different connecting flight from Vancouver to Toronto where the ice storm was just ending, landing with 5 minutes to catch the flight to Cancun. Luckily we got off one plane walked to the next gate and were the last to board the plane that took me and, unbeknownst to me at the time, my lovely bride to our destination, which is by no means final.

We have many roads to travel and many destinations to make.

Together

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