Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Age of Creativity

This is the Age of Technology.  No argument there, right?  Like I said to my sis, @MizDurie, the other day, it's also the Age of Creativity.  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has had this thought.  You know how "original" thoughts go.  Just haven't met the other millions of people the world over who've had it/ said it / written it.  When I say "The Age of Creativity", I am not speaking as if from my own microcosm, oblivious to the mind-blowing creations and inventions that mankind has been bursting at the seams with since fig leaves doubled as underwear and outerwear.  No, instead, I'm shifting our focus to the creative possibilities and realities that the Age of Technology has brought with it, given its built-in opportunities.

It used to be that the creators and inventors whose products and services and artsy creations made it to the world stage, were relatively few and far apart.  Every single solitary person is creative in some way; some in more than one way. But, that way, or those ways, for most people, did not get to see the light of day; did not make it to the world's platform where it could be showcased and enjoyed and laughed with - and laughed at!

The Age of Technology has made it possible for many who were, before, bereft of such opportunities, to "do their thing"; to show it off for an audience comprising more than their immediate family and close friends.  In short, they have tapped the built-in opportunities in technology and have come out expressing who they are in their own creative way.  This is the Age in which the common man, woman, boy, girl, cat, dog (you get my drift) shines!

Consider for a few seconds the millions of YouTube videos that scream "Look at me!" as the performers broadcast everything from singing to ice-sculpting; busking to painting; showing cat love to breakdown over sloths.  Are more creations/productions taking place now because there is an online outlet? I believe so.  Some writers have thumbed their noses at traditional publishing and have now gone the way of eBooks; blogs; vlogs - anything that can fulfill the need for an outlet through which their creative juices, having flowed, can be shared in a certain space.

Many of us know how tightly we hold our creative works to our chests.  It takes guts and gusto to "put it out there" under the critiquing eye of the public.  So, whenever I'm drawn to a new creative piece on show, I usually (usually) appreciate the courage it took the creator to get it there.  I believe, however, that just the very frequency and volume of creative works being published; uploaded; broadcast, reduces the apprehension of possible rejection by that much.  After all, with so many people are doing it, if mine wipes out, it will be forgotten in the next minute.

I also think that that same frequency and volume sear, even by that much, our expectation for something that we might regard as "a quality production".  True, this would be subjective.  But, I'm sure quite a number of us have experienced inundation of offline and online product pushing - everybody has something to sell; to say; to sing; to do; to drive; to watch; to wear.  We are constantly bombarded by consumerism and by the creative.  But then, once in a while, there is something that stands out, different from the rest, resonating with something inside us.  It is beyond our seared expectation and it makes us sit up and take notice.  That, I imagine, is what most creators are going for.

The thing is, some try way too hard.  And, not all cases end well.  So, courage mightn't be short, but, common sense might be. Just this week, we read of the newly wed woman and her "trash the dress" photography session; of the man dressed like Bigfoot, only to be mowed down in the middle of a highway.  No need for me to get into how brutal some commenters can be behind a screen and pseudonym - even in cases like these.  You've read them.   What we find "amazing" though, perhaps, not entirely surprising, is that there are those who will continue to do things for cheap thrills; for shock and awe; to stand out;  to try to get their fifteen minutes of fame, while not applying common sense.

Thanks to smartphones and other personal devices, photographers, videographers and iReporters abound.  App creators, for example, appeal to users, who in turn create for other consumers/onlookers and so on and so forth.  We are all creators and consumers at one and the same time.

Speaking of personal devices, I've been using my PlayBook to capture what I call "gems" in my comings and goings.  I look forward to showcasing other folks' works; events and scenes that speak for themselves as they wow the beholders.   For example, I was happy to record and showcase the performance of  Turbo Street Funk, a busking band out of Toronto, the other day.  Also, grabbed some pics from the 2012 Sand Sculpting Competition in Bronte, Ontario.  (Pics below.)

We can - and we do.  And, there's a place to show it off.  Somewhere.

Peter Vogelaar's creation

Siggi Buhler's creation

Guy-Olivier Deveau's creation

Tanya Kastl's creation

Scott Herel's creation

Sandi Stirling's creation


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Eagles Make Tough Decisions Too

Some of us have seen an eagle, in real life, at least once.  I had the pleasure of beholding the majestic soar of one of those magnificent birds quite recently. It was on a trip to Kenora, Ontario.  I took some time to do the scenic Lake of the Woods cruise on the M.S. Kenora at lunch time.  I had been snap-snapping away when,suddenly, someone brought to my attention an eagle in full flight.  In short order, it alighted at the top of a tree and then I lost sight of it as the boat passed by that island.  Funnily enough, I had not had a chance to grab a photo of it when I saw it.  However, as I reviewed my photos afterward, I was glad to see that I had unwittingly and inadvertently caught it in flight when I was busy snapping something else.

Stories about eagles, or references to eagles, have been a part of my life since I was a child.  One of my mom's favourite Bible passages is the last part of Isaiah 40.  The very last verse has an encouragement for those who wait on the Lord.  It says, "...they shall mount up with wings as eagles."  There is a picture of an eagle - wings in full span - at the top of the staircase in our family home. And, many of us have heard the adage, "You can't fly like an eagle if you hang with chickens!"  That, from the fact that you'll never see eagles travelling in flocks.  

Whenever I have significant life-changing moments...well, if we want to be technical, each moment is a "significant life-changing moment" as it brings its own choice to make. But, I don't want to be technical. :-) I'm talking about the big moments; the moments that you know herald a breakthrough or a major change in direction; the moments that say, "This is big!  Your life, as you've known it, has changed."  (What? Your significant moments don't talk?)  So, whenever I have those kinda moments I always think of myself as an eagle - soaring high.  Remember that card from a former co-worker I'd mentioned several posts ago? "She always knew she could fly...The question remained, how high."  Those sentiments fit right into my life.  My thoughts go as far as hoping that those who would try to cage this here eagle, would quickly understand that it is impossible to do so.  There is no point in resenting how high an eagle flies - flying higher than any other bird - because it's just what it does.  We have a Jamaican saying, "What is fi yuh, cyaan be un- fi yuh." It means, what is for you can't be for anyone else. I have experienced an abundance of God's blessings over the years - and my heart is ever thankful.  Yet, He still amazes me with the what and when, but, especially, the how.  Some I just never see coming!  He causes me to soar and He makes me strong.  And, I remain confident that He will remain faithful.   I need strength from Him.  After all, even eagles have tough decisions to make.

One of the less popular stories I've read about the eagle came by way of an email years ago:

The eagle has the longest life-span of its species - up to 70 years.  But, to reach this age, the eagle must make a hard decision - in its 40s.  The long and flexible talons can no longer grab and hold on to its prey; the long and sharp beak becomes bent.  Its old-aged and heavy wings, due to their thick feathers, become stuck to its chest and make it difficult to fly.  The eagle is then left with only two options: die or go through a painful process of change which lasts 150 days.  The process requires that the eagle fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest.  There, the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it plucks it out.  After plucking it out, the eagle will wait for a new beak to grow back and then it will pluck out its talons.  When new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its old-aged feathers.  After five months, the eagle takes its flight of rebirth and lives for about 30 more years.


There it is!  Right...there.

Zooming by on Lake of the Woods as we cruise on the M.S. Kenora


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

"Leap and Annette will appear!"

I've mentioned in this space, more than a few times, that I love Monk.  Yes, the television series that came to an end...was it last year?  I watch the DVDs all the time so, for me, it's still on.  Gonna have to Google it.  (Has anyone ever said, I'm gonna "Bing it"?  Anyone?)  The year when it last aired is all a blur - pretty much like the final scenes on the tele as I watched through tears.  Yep.  I cried when Monk ended.  Bawled.  Ok.  Cried and sobbed.  I was heart-broken that there would be no more new experiences to go through with him, his quirks, his persnicketiness and his sheer brilliance.  The creator (Andy Breckman) and writers were gooood.  Tony Shalhoub was impeccably stellar as he headed a great cast.  I was a tad miffed when Bitty Schram was replaced...wait.  Where am I going with this?  This is not even about Monk!  I really want to get to one line - ONE - from one of the episodes. One.  But, it's kinda like that when I start talking about Monk.  Ahhhhhh.

Anywaaaaay, in one of the episodes, "Mr. Monk, Private Eye", Monk's assistant, Natalie, forces him and opens up a Private Investigation office.  Monk is not amused. He doesn't think they will do well.  Natalie encourages him, telling him that her "Grandpa Neville used to say, "Leap, and a net will appear!""  Monk asks, "Who's Annette?"  Later on, she has reason to ask him whether he can swim.  He tells her, "I took a correspondence course.  They sent me a certificate."   Well, toward the end of the episode, as he tries to escape "the guy" by jumping overboard from a speeding boat, he consults the wallet-sized card with swimming tips, and repeats the mantra, before chucking off into the blue.

Leap and a net will appear. 

I realize that there is a little similarity in tone between this post and the ending of my previous post.  But, I really wanted to expound on this idea here.  The month of August - in by-gone years so unrecognized, so under-the-radar - has become a special one for me.  It marks the anniversary of the start of this blog.  I was inspired by my mom - I needed quite a bit of encouragement that year.  To a large extent, I was also inspired by Usain Bolt and his sizzling 9.69s run to win the Men's 100M in the Olympics in Beijing in 2008.  It was a shot-in-the-arm to poop or get off the pot.  For a while, I was scared to death about writing for public viewing/criticism.  But, the fear of NOT writing; the horror and suffocation I felt in not having an outlet to publish, beat the crap out of the fear of criticism or ridicule.  It was write or suffocate.  So, even though I had not yet - and, up to this point, still have not - published a book (one of my dreams), I took the leap and began publishing in cyberspace.  I set up a personal schedule of posting three times per month: the 8th, the 18th and the 28th.  I keep to it, even if it means hitting "publish" at 11:58PM, because, well, I simply must.  "Serious writers write, inspired or not.  Over time they discover that routine is a better friend to them than inspiration." (Keyes)

The net appeared.

Whaddya know?  I didn't die.  I didn't sink.  I didn't fail.  Instead, I was caught up in the bouyancy of sheer pleasure and delight; the kind brought on by making a creative adventure of that which you know is yours to do.

I'm big on being inspired (even if, for the writing, routine is regarded as a better friend).  For, inspiration is not just applicable to writing or other creative work.  It's applicable to life; how we live. And, I firmly believe that sometimes, you just need to be inspired to get up and do what is yours to do!  I'm occasionally reminded of a few lines from "8 Mile" starring Eminem (you heard me): "So here I go it's my shot/ Feet fail me not/ This may be the only opportunity that I got."  Then, "You better lose yourself in the music, the moment/ You own it, you better never let it go/ You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow/ This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo."   (No, I didn't "Bing it".)

The athletes are at it again in the XXX Olympiad in London.  This time around, Usain Bolt delivered a "scorching" 9.63s in the Men's 100M (as one paper reported it), setting a new OR.  Olympic Games newcomer, Yohan Blake, did Jamaica proud in 9.75s.  Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the Women's100M in 10.75s.  Asafa Powell - the man who started this round of Jamaica's track domination - and Veronica Campbell-Brown made their presence felt, too.  Indeed, most times, you only get one shot!

 Now, guess we just need to figure out the other part of the duo.  We've heard of "Annette".  But, as my sis asked the other day when I used the same encouragement on her, "Who is "Leap", again?"  LOL!