Stopping Time

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“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”  Anaïs Nin

I have often thought of this quote by Anaïs Nin – not in the context of a writer, but in the framework of a photo. Ever since Joseph Nicephore Niepce clicked the first photo in 1814, humanity has been beguiled by the ability to capture something important.  It is our only way to stop time, to remember our journeys, and proclaim that we have lived, felt love, endured challenges and sustained losses.

I confess that I am a “photo hoarder.”  Yes, even the photos that I consider “second best” remain safely stored on external drives in hopes that some day there may be an editing program that will be invented that will enhance and bring out their beauty. By beauty, I mean the emotional impression of that event.

Just last week, I went back to “taste life twice.”  The year was 2004.  I had purchased my first digital camera, a Canon Powershot A70, for a long-awaited trip to Italy to enroll in a 3-week Italian language course.  The reviews were as generous as I was enthusiastic: “The PowerShot A70 is much more than just a 3.2-megapixel version of its predecessor, the A40.”   I was convinced that this was an excellent purchase.

With a camera in hand, there is added emotional drama at play, more clarity, more interest in the “now.”  This awareness was most keenly felt when I walked the lush paths of Frederick Stibbert’s Garden.  It was a late October afternoon. A gentle light settled on the trees and aging walls, a faint wind tossed the leaves.  A quiet solitude lifted my spirits.  I had recently finished an arduous academic journey and was at a crossroads.

Looking back on these photos, I remember a pivotal decision, made with a recognition that we move in tune with the music of time, surrounded by those who came before and those who will come after. Our myths, our struggles, our joys are intermingled.  Perhaps it is in the retrospective, in knowing what happened afterwards, that reveals a greater understanding.  And with that knowledge, we move forward with profound resolve to embrace the next moment.

 

 

The Opposite of Love

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Love & Beauty

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
Anaïs Nin

A week ago, peaceful flower shops transformed into chaotic centres of colour and lively chatter. Chocolate stores were jammed with customers selecting the finest truffles and bonbons. Valentine’s Day cards, in electronic and paper form, were being exchanged.  Three days later, we have all moved on.

Valentine’s Day celebrates love.  Even so, love cannot be contained within a 24 hour period, once a year.  It belongs to every minute, day and month, decade that we live and breathe in this world.  Love has the capacity to expand beyond the customary restrictions of time and space.  There is an abundance of love if there is a willingness to recognize and accept the form in which it is offered.  An open heart does not signify naivety, but a rejection of apathy and indifference.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” 
 Elie Wiesel

Writing for Purpose

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Summer Flowers

Why write? There’s always a reason or purpose to scribble on a piece of paper. Over the years, my writing has been associated with work– business reports, letters and correspondence, case studies and academic research. I never considered my words and sentences as “real” writing.

Indeed, many consider writing to be in the form and context of the social sciences or literature. Most writing, however, occurs in every day moments – a thank you to a friend; a text message to and from a co-worker; an e-mail from a supervisor. Writing involves a complex skill set that involves creative thinking, cognitive development and understanding the community in which you are a participant. In its simplest and most profound structure, writing is communication. Every time we type a word or scrawl a quick note, we engage in the noblest purpose of all – a conversation. As Albert Camus eloquently stated, “the purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

Paulo Coelho said, “Tears are words that need to be written.” What better way to acknowledge the grieving process.

Friedrich Nietzsche declared, “All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.” Words are a powerful force.

Anaïs Nin reflected, “The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.” Becoming a writer is choosing to look at life differently, to see beyond the immediate, to accept our responsibility to seek the greater good.

The Write Approach

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Writers Fest

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”

Anais Nin

One of the maxims of promotion is to identify a target market so that you can construct a marketing program that has a realistic probability of drawing an audience, consumer, listening or reader.  Many creative individuals rebel against the commercialism of this type of approach even as they recognize that monetary considerations cannot be ignored indefinitely.

The stakes are considerable. Food on the table and a roof overhead is a reality that we all face.  For writers, there is the added uncertainty of artistic direction.  Writing may be finding that delicate balance between the need to write what is in the heart with the desire to please an unknown audience.   Yet, it seems that those who listen to their inner voice achieve the greatest reward – they have responded to their calling.

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.”

Truman Capote

Embracing Transitions

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…and the time came when the risk it took to remain in a tightly closed bud became infinitely more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

Anaïs Nin (1903 – 1977)

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