Photo Jan 08, 5 55 10 PM.jpg
That’s the name/date stamp of this photo taken on my iphone on a beach outside Irvine California. On January 8th, as it says, of 2016.
It was a beautiful sunset; a beautiful reflection; the colors were stunning-unedited and unapologetic. That’s how nature is, it’s just there to be noticed or ignored.
Sometimes taking pictures seems to take over the moment and steal the presence of just BEING. But, I’m glad I have these images in more than my mind’s eye to remember...
This moment took place during a wonderful, anxiety-ridden, hopeful, and confusing time in my life. Somehow I was filled with hope. Knowing what I know now…having lived all I’ve lived now, it is too bittersweet to explain any other way…Simply put, it was bitter and it was sweet.
It seemed as though my life, which had felt off schedule, was finally falling into place. All the pieces were there, and I could work them together. I was sure about something, I had waited a short lifetime to feel this way. Photography wasn’t really on my schedule during those days. I had loved and lost that dream, so my “real” camera spend most of it’s time in my green camera bag and I travelled all over the U.S. with just that iphone.
Several months later, I decided to turn this photo into a wooden wall hanging. I make these routinely on a smaller scale but this 18x24 undertaking turned out to be a lot more “trouble than it’s worth”. It took me days, multiple mediums, raw fingers, odd smells…the quality lacking. The vision I started with not being realized. But, I was determined, I was this far in - invested - I would finish, even though the end product had a big crease down the center… even though big chunks peeled off… even though it was long, arduous, frustrating and disappointing. I kept going. Looking back, if I extrapolate, that process was a metaphor for what I was living and about to live in that year.
I finally came to a stopping point, but it looked like an imperfect, vintage art piece. It was lacking something. I kept toying with the idea of painting over top of it. Should I add glitter? Should I write some pinterest quote about the beach and turn it into a trendy/girly decoration? Nothing was ever quite right.
So, it moved with me across country and back. Even though I wanted to use it, I don’t think it ever hung on a wall. It sat in a few garages and I stopped thinking about it until this past week.
I sat writing in front of a blank wall. I sat, conducting my own therapy, answering my own introspective questions. I wrote about the pain of looking back, the desire to truly BE. The desire to embrace all of life as a mixture of bitter and sweet in every moment. I wrote my own bit of prose and then I read some other’s work. And, I knew this poem by Tyler Knott Gregson needed to go up on that blank wall. At first I thought I needed to go buy a canvas or a poster and then I remembered this unfinished piece in the garage… And just like that, over two years later, it became imperfectly complete.
The text can be found in Tyler’s books or on Pinterest : “I promise to find art where there maybe none, I promise to try to become it if absolutely none exists. I will live in a manner in which I look back and know I chased two things throughout: all the light, all the grace.”
Sometimes I worry I’ll never “make it” to where I want to go - personally, creatively, professionally. And, if I never get “there”, how will I know what I should have or could have done? How could we ever sift through elusive “what ifs”? See, it’s hard to stop looking backwards with pain. And, it’s often hard to look forward with clear eyes.
But, as the poem explains so well. Yes, art will forever be in my blood. So, I can’t stop seeing it, chasing it, becoming it.
For even in the least “creative” person out there, art is in the designs of your eyes; in the shape of your face; in the workings of your brain.
Art is found in so many moments - a sunrise, sunset, laughter, tears. Sometimes the bitter brings you back to the sweetness. I found photography again though all the bitter. And, this old/new hanging on my wall is the epitome of the bittersweet.
The darkness beckons the soul to chase the light. And so, chasing “all the light, all the grace” requires all that bittersweet darkness.
We write about sunshine and shadows
roses and thorns
maybe this is the essence of being.
We are living everyday we’re dying
the living is bitter; the living is sweet
some endings are painful,
others with joyous tears we meet. - Anna Rochelle