There was a time I would write almost everyday about almost anything. I slept with a notebook at my bedside for those moments in the wee hours of the morning when inspiration hits. A line or two would wake me up and I soon understood that not writing it down then meant completely forgetting it by morning. So oftentimes I woke to barely legible scribbles running across the pages of my notebooks. Usually the precursor to a poem or prose-like piece that I somehow had the courage then to perform as a spoken word piece. I did this for years and have written quite a few memorable pieces. I know now that they are memorable because even though photography is clearly something that I love and I display, the question I get asked the most is “do you still write?”
Recently, as in this past week alone I have been faced with that question on at least three different occasions. One conversation was simply more an admonishment, from a lady a number of years my senior. “Why don’t you write anymore?” “ You were so good. “Do your children know you can write the way you do?” “You should never stop.” I had a sheepish response along the lines of not being inspired to do so anymore and replacing it with photography as my new creative expression… sounded plausible enough I felt. But then I was asked again. It was as if the stars aligned this week and decided to make me ponder the dereliction of my duty. I remember once, a long time ago, being told that if I didn’t use it I would lose it. More ominously, actually, that it would be taken away from me, like punishment for a gift squandered.
My second response fell along the same lines as my first, however. This time though we both shared the saddening choice that many creative people make. It was the life got in the way argument. The I chose supporting my family and a job as the reason that the creative expression was placed on the back burner. This particular conversation, however, with another creative reeked of regret. He expressed completely being denied the ability to do what he loved. Having major family situations that made his spending hours creating, a problem for the household. So he stopped. Hung up his gloves and convinced himself it was the right choice. But he died. Not literally. But he died, his vigor for life became mundane expressions of routine and feigned happiness. Meanwhile if ever a moment arose for him to show people what he was able to do, he sprung on it. These moments were his favorite. Each time it was as if a defibrillator was applied to his soul. He relished these entirely as they allowed him to be, who he truly was. The man came alive talking to me about a show he recently auditioned for and played in. My response was one of complete understanding.
My mantra? “Do what you love and do it often.” It’s a cure for malaise. Regardless of how small or unimportant you might think it is, the person it helps the most is the creative.
So understandably this all stoked within me many questions. I am good at finding good believable explanations for the choices I make. Or so I think. I am this serious, contemplative sometimes smart man that people feel has a plan and must know why he made this choice or that. At least that’s what I gather. Maybe people simply think, oh the horror, why would he ever stop doing something he was clearly good at? And so it goes for me. I like the theory I so often espoused, that I have replaced one creative outlet with another. But is that really true? Is that really how it works? Table one talent and develop another? Why can’t they co-exist? It is 3:10 on a Saturday morning and I lay awake writing this, because I was inspired to do so and largely because these questions this week resonated with me on many levels.
At three o clock in the morning the place is remarkably still, all you hear is the occasional droning of a passing car and the restful breaths of loved ones, and the noisy thoughts of my mind. In this case I replaced the bedside notebook with the Notes app on my phone. But the outcome is the same as it was. Inspiration hits and I needed to get it out for what it’s worth. Maybe I have not truly given it up but rather theorized it away by thinking way to much thus blocking all that can come.