Somewhat of an epiphany has occurred today relating to two of my passions in life; songwriting, which I have done for most of my life, and photography, which I've done for the last 10 years or so.
The epiphany being the realisation that these two passions are connected by exactly the same heartfelt motive - and that is to capture a moment in time, either in my life or somebody else's.
I've come to realise that both these activities that I undertake come from the same place within me.
For example, when I'm writing a song it is either about me or about someone that I have observed. It could be a personal experience of mine, or a personal experience of theirs. It could be a scenario of mine or a scenario of theirs.
My objective (or my motive) for writing the song in the first place is to literally capture the emotion of whatever it is that I am describing as best I can with the lyric of the song. Incidentally, this is my pure unadulterated motive for writing songs. I have absolutely no interest in writing pop songs that I think are going to be a hit!
I've come to realise that when I’m out shooting Street Photography, I’ve found myself doing exactly the same thing that I do when I’m writing a song. With the song, I'm describing the feeling and the emotion with lyric. When I take a photograph, I'm trying to capture exactly the same thing in an image. In both mediums, I'm trying to freeze a moment in time.
I might be a little slow on the uptake but it has taken me up till now to realise that the two are very much interconnected.
The funny thing is, even as I type this I am realising that it's kind of silly for me not to have come to this conclusion earlier, because both of these things (photography and songwriting) come from the same place … me!
I'm sitting in the park watching my son play on the swings.
A Chinese man walks up and sits down next to me. I notice that he has a strange look on his face - he looks confused. I also notice that he is watching my right hand.
In my right hand is a set of Mala or prayer beads (they have many names). He watches as I count the beads through my thumb and forefinger - a habit of mine for almost 20 years.
I continue to watch the kids playing on the swings. All the while, I can feel him watching me.
After a couple of minutes, I turn and look at him; he’s staring straight at me. He begins to speak to me.
Chinese man (looking at my beads) - “Are they for Buddhism?”
Me - “In a way, yes.”
Chinese man - “But you’re not Chinese!”
Me - “Well, you’re not Indian!”
The Chinese man got up and walked away.
Now, I don’t claim to know much. But I do know that the founder of Buddhism, Siddhārtha Gautama, was Indian - not Chinese!
I've never really been to type of person that cares about what other people think of me.
However, I feel good when I find out that I've had a positive impact on someone's life. - perhaps you can relate.
That good feeling is not based on me assuming that they must have a good opinion of me.
It's based on knowing that what I am doing / saying influences or affects those around me in a good way
The most important thing about this occurrence is that it is a very clear indication that I am on the right path and am doing the right thing.
I am always amazed at the way that life interaction is so influenced by ones own thoughts. Frown (even on the inside) and you will get nothing but the same in return. Smile (yes, even on the inside) and you will the same in return.
Don't believe me? Try it!
You have every possibility of influencing your surroundings. Not just the people ... life!
Every day you are creating your Karma, and every day it is creating you!
It is making you the person that you are. It is moulding you into you!
So be careful what you think, say and do. Because these are the things that you control, and these are the things that will define you.
And remember to always take it seriously, because it takes you VERY seriously!
I don't know if it's just me, but what I see around me is kind of disturbing in a way.
Where are we going?
What are we becoming?
I sometimes wonder if we’re too busy looking in the mirror, trying to work out who we are, that we sometimes actually miss who we really are! We miss the point completely!
You see, the thing is, it has nothing to do with what we're wearing.
It has nothing to do with the makeup on our face.
It has nothing to do with our haircut.
It has nothing to do with Botox injections, fake boobs, painted fingernails and hair extensions. None of this stuff is real. None of this equates to reality.
Moreover, it has nothing to do with our job, or our job title, or who we think we are.
It has nothing to do with the house that we live in.
It has nothing to do with the car that we drive.
It has nothing to do with the fake persona that was spread around the earth and all over everybody else so liberally.
So what does it mean to be human?
What does it mean to be a real person?
It doesn't mean anything to be rich, at least in a monetary sense. But we should learn to be rich in other areas.
What we should be putting in the bank is the memories of the times where we have helped others. That is wealth, and it pays greater dividends than any bank could ever possibly do.
It can never be taken away.
We can never lose it in a financial crash.
It is always there, always will be, and will never ever go!
That is our wealth.
That is what makes us a good human being, not the petty frivolous things … !
We have all been transformed into small cogs within the great machine.
But no matter how insignificant we think we might be, we must always remember that we shine brightly, and as individuals, we are in control.
The great machine will not run, if just one small cog is not in sync, or not there at all!
I watched a brief documentary about Christopher McCandless last night. A movie was made about his plight called 'Into the wild'. If you haven’t yet watched it, I suggest you do.
One of the presenters kept questioning the motive behind Christopher's decisions and actions. He didn't say it outright, but he indicated quite clearly that he wasn't too happy about the decisions that Christopher made. He frequently made comments about how Christopher was different to the norm, and that he suffered because he was trying to break the mould. Moreover, he stated that if he had just stayed within the boundaries of his privileged life, he would have been ok, and he probably would have still been alive today.
This got me thinking about humanity as a whole …
The way I see it, is that in a way we are failing miserably. One of the main reasons that we are failing is because we have turned this world into a massive human sausage Factory. What I mean by that is that there are so many expectations in place that we are expected to follow. We are expected to go to school, get a degree, get a job, get a house with a white picket fence, have a family and do everything exactly the same as what has been done for years and years (by everyone else before us).
We are reproducing the same human-being over and over again, yet we all stand here expecting change in the world.
We want wars to stop, we want famine to stop, we want people to be safe when they walk down the street. We want respect, understanding and tolerance. How can this happen when we are producing the same person over and over again? Something has to change!
I have always put my faith in the freethinkers of the world. The vagabonds, wanderers, musicians, artists, painters, poets, authors, philosopher's, yogis and meditators. The reason for this is that I believe that people have to step away from the 'norm' and do something ‘unusual’ in order for something ‘unusual’ to happen. And by that I mean ‘different’.
If we keep duplicating ourselves and keep doing the same thing over and over again, how can we expect anything different to happen? How can we anticipate change if the patterns remain the same? At best, it's illogical and absurd.
I believe that the mould should have been broken a long time ago (we should have learned this by now). It should be allowed to crumble at our feet, exposing the true essence of the human being that each of us have the potential to be.
Kudos to you Christopher McCandless, for at least trying to break that mould.
I'm not pro invasion (one country occupying another) in any way shape or form. But if looking for a positive, a residual run off, that has occurred as a result of a situation like this, one thing instantly comes to mind ... food.
I'm currently in Vietnam, and the one thing that is blatantly obvious to me is the French influence on food, particularly baked goods.
(Yes of course, there are many other things, but to me, food is universal, so that is my chosen topic).
I'm not trying to belittle something as serious as an invasion. As mentioned above, I'm against it. What I am saying is this. Wouldn't it be wonderful if wars were fought with food. No, I don't mean hurling custard pies at each other. What I mean is, a battle of the taste buds.
One thing that we can all be thankful for is the variety of food that we have (no matter where we are in the world). All types of food has made its way into many different countries, and we all are better off because of it. And I do mean all of us, even those still banging the racist drum. If only they could realise that they are completely contradicting themselves by jettisoning the idea of people coming from other lands, to theres. Because I know full well that they do this whilst drinking their Italian coffee, or sipping their French wine whilst playing with their Chinese made smart phone of choice, using apps that were probably developed in India.
I will probably always bang on about universal things like food (and music obviously) but that's exactly my point. For these are the types of things that bring us together ... as it should be.
So no matter where you are in the world. Enjoy your food, be kind to one another.
Food fight anyone ... ?
A few years ago I began having this recurring dream. It Just kept happening a few times a week.
When I first started to have the dream I couldn't work out what they were doing. The person in this dream would occasionally look back at somebody else and laugh! This perplexed me, not in a disturbing way, but more in a curious way. What the hell were they laughing it?
The more times I dreamt the dream, the more I was shown. Little it began to unveil. Eventually I worked out that the man leaning over me was doing a tattoo. In fact, he was doing a tattoo on me!
Sometimes in the dream I would look down and try to see what he was writing, but I could never make out what it was. This was little frustrating because I wanted to know what it was!
Eventually, I was able to make out what the tattoo was. It was my son's name in Thai. His English name is Bodhi. In Thai it is written as ไปคื้.
It got to the point where I could see everything that was going on in the dream, even what they were speaking about. Though I couldn't work out what they were laughing at.
The dream wouldn't stop, I kept having it, over and over again.
One day I was speaking with a friend of mine about it. He has a lot of tattoos, so I thought that he might find the story amusing. When I finished telling him, I laughed and told him that I just wanted the dream to stop. He looked at me and laughed, then profoundly said “If you get the tattoo, the dream will stop!”
I thought about this for a while and then decided that's what I would do.
My friend took me to see one of his tattoo artists, a trusted person. I told him what I wanted and he wrote Bodhi in Thai for me. He drew it free hand in a very nice design.
They took me out the back and put the stencil on my chest. They asked me to confirm the position of the tattoo, which I did. They then asked me to lay down on a table and began to do the tattoo.
The man kept asking me if it hurt, to which I replied, "no". To me, it felt like I was just being tickled. I can't really explain it any other way.
At one point I must have fallen asleep; I was woken by laughter. The two tattoo guys that were working (one on me, the other on somebody else) we're both laughing at me because I had fallen asleep.
I fell asleep several times whilst he was doing the tattoo, and each time I woke up, they laughed. I was the crazy Foreigner that kept falling asleep whilst getting my tattoo. This is obviously what the laughing in my dreams was all about!
He eventually finished the tattoo, he stood me up and I looked at it in the mirror. I was very happy with the end result. All that was left to do, was to wait, and by that I mean, wait to see if the dreaming stopped.
Guess what, the dreaming did stop! My friend was right. I got the tattoo and the dreaming stopped!
How this tattoo came about is one of the strangest things that has ever happened to me. I had never dreamt like that before, nor have I dreamt like it since. But if I do ever have a recurring dream like that again, I'll know exactly what to do … get another tattoo!
It is better to spend your days, focusing on your days. And by 'days' I mean … Today!
There is absolutely no point, no sense and no logic in thinking about tomorrow, unless you are doing so in order to make a decision.
'Tomorrow thoughts' should only occur (simultaneously) with decision making. Any thinking of tomorrow is a waste of time, because it is what you do right now, today, that defines tomorrow.
Even if you are planning ahead, arranging goals or thinking about the future, you have to keep in mind the fact that you can't execute your plans, achieve your goals or change your future, without first making a decision today.
Your decisions define everything that you do and everything that happens in your life. Your decisions are the keys that open the doors (good or bad) so you have to be aware of how you make them, and be responsible for them.
The more you do that, the more you influence your future!
Life is not a dress rehearsal.
It is a 1 take, first take movie that you are the star of.
Not only are you the star, you're also the screenwriter, director and actor.
You get to choose what happens in your movie, no one else.
So make the decision that you need to make, and never be afraid of doing it.
There are no consequences that could ever cause more pain than that which is caused by not making the decision in the first place.
So close the door behind you before it is closed on you.
And never, ever be afraid!
Why do we fear saying the truth, stating clearly what it is that we need to say. What are we afraid of? What consequence could possibly outweigh being unhappy?
Is this the norm? Should we all just put our heads down and carry on … like sheep; literally!
I am not entirely sure that I am able to do that. Because there is something inside me that drives me towards truth. I am compelled to seek it out, push it to the limits until I know truth ... whatever the cost.
Are there consequences for people that seek truth to such an extreme measure? I can safely say that the answer to that question is probably yes! But why? The answer is simple. There are people in this world that don't want to hear the truth. In fact, there are some that hide from it, run from it, avoid it all all costs … no matter what! But why?
Truth defines us. It gives us direction. It is unquestionable, it cannot be challenged, it is undoubtable, unmovable and clear. But yet, some fear it. Why?
Those that fear truth must have something to hide. Something that only truth can reveal. What other explanation is there? Nothing comes to mind.
So if they have something to hide, one must surmise that they have done something wrong. What other explanation can there be? None.
So in a way, facing truth is like facing oneself. Facing up to the wrongdoings that have been done. Facing up to the consequences for those wrongdoings, and not fearing them.
This is virtuous, character-building and truly uplifting once executed.
Who wouldn't want these traits … ?
Sometimes I think that FaceBook should change the name.
Perhaps something like 'FakeBook' would be closer to the truth.
Because a lot of what people post, is not real. And as a result, people that may have a low self esteem, or people that are going through a hard time, inevitably compare themselves to the plethora of 'happy posts'.
But there's a problem, and that problem is this … 95% of the posts that we all see are 'the best off' or 'the greatest hits' of that person or couple.
Think of it like a show reel that people are displaying. They're showing you their best work, and only their best work.
The photo of the happy couple on the beach …
They have problems too!
The guy on the top of the mountain …
He has problems too!
The people standing in front of the hot car, nice cafe, picturesque landscape …
Yup, you guessed it. They have problems too!
But these types of people will never share this ... Fact!
So I want to pay homage to the recent post by Sinead O'Connor.
Why? Because what she posted (as hard as it was to watch) is 100% real. It's not her showreel. It's pure utter truth!
She has always had my respect.
(Just read the letter that she sent to Miley Cyrus after she was credited as an inspiration for the film clip to wrecking ball … it's hilarious!)
Don't believe what you see.
Don't always assume that it is real.
Because folks, a high percentage of it isn't !
Look a little deeper, and you will always see the truth.
And therein, lies the answer.
It’s often hard to find but it’s there.
It’s there now and has always been, but some of us are blinded and do not see. Everyday, I am trying to find it. I do see it often, but not often enough.
Why we choose to not see beauty around us, is baffling to me. We seem content to embrace the suffering, not only of others, but of ourselves.
We are all so ostensibly separated, when in fact, unity could bring upon bliss!
We jettison a sense of connection and rebut against society by locking ourselves in our insured homes, our carefully fenced yards, in our locked cars, and mostly, our heavily guarded disposition.
There is so much that we can do for ourselves and for others … together.
But, and as a twist on the old saying, divided we stand ~ (and so) divided we will fall.
There is only love, there is nothing else. This is all we need to see.
For in love, there is beauty ~ and in beauty, we are free.