If I was going to win one division of Thomas Cook’s “Explore the Elements” photography/blogger contest… I would vote “Air”.
Not that got a vote.
Nor did I have an expectation about the outcome.
So, DANG I was surprised when that’s exactly what happened!
I entered the Thomas Cook “Explore the Elements” contest because I thought it was smart. I don’t mean smart to enter it… I mean the contest itself was smart. It required good photographs, good thoughts, good writing… an entire package. Y’know, smart. Plus who doesn’t love the 4 elements?
We had to write a blog post to enter… mine was here.
This was the breath of Air that sang the winning tune…
I always feel like I’m on vacation when I look at it. 😉
The REAL Story In All Of This
But y’know… for me, that’s not the real story.
For me, the REAL story is that this is an Abstract.
Don’t stare at me blankly. Here’s the deal:
If I’m known at all, it’s generally for landscape images.
And while I’ve always loved a certain kind of Abstract imagery… I’ve never allowed myself to go down that road, at least until recently. My muse finally put her determined little foot down some months ago, glared at me and said “Abstracts!! I want more Abstracts!” You know I can’t ignore her. We made a pact and off to the Abstractium we went!
There’s just something about making them. They’re soothing. I feel like my brain waves settle into a nicer flow. Things make sense. My nervous system starts humming along at a pleasingly pleasant pitch.
I just never thought anyone would like them. I was afraid to share them. Much as I hate to admit it, I even felt swayed by the fact that they never got as many “likes” or “plus ones” as my groovy landscapes. Most of all, I HATED that I felt swayed by popular opinion at all.
Ultimately, I went ahead and made them anyway. Made a gallery on my website for them. Visit it often to gaze at them and feel my senses shift in delightfully surprising ways. Which made THIS particular award mean something very deep. Something well beyond the Thomas Cook’s most generous prize.
4 Great Lessons (re)Learned
The REAL take-home for me about this contest? The affirmation of 4 things that might just change our lives (we ARE in this together, right??).
1. Always listen to your Muse: Call her (or him) your ‘inner voice’, your ‘creative expression’, your ‘soul’, your heart… but listen. Act. Follow her urgings, her requests, her visions. Don’t question. Don’t fuss. Don’t excuse yourself from participating due to a crippling case of logic.
Shut up and DO.
2. Learn to be OK with being uncomfortable: Being comfortable is over-rated. Feeling like you know the answers, that know what you do, how you do it and what you expect from what you do is fine and dandy. But now and again, go ahead and plan to really NOT know. Dwell in Uncertainty. Sure, it’ll make you squirm, that’s how you know you’re there… but it’ll most likely take you places you’d never buy a ticket to otherwise: the Land of Mysterious and Delightful Surprises.
3. Trust what makes you happy: We hear this all the time, ad nauseum. But when was the last time you talked yourself out doing/creating/dreaming about the very thing that makes you happy for some really ‘logical’ reason?
4. Bring friends: People don’t talk as much about this one. But know what? Wherever you end up, it’s always better with friends. I told my friend Tanya Wallis about this contest – she got busy and entered. She won the runner up spot in 2 divisions: Water and Air… and we got to celebrate together.
Next time, it the roles might be reversed… and we’ll get to celebrate then too. Friends + Celebration = Awesomeness.
THESE are lessons that any artist – or anyone who lives their life as if it WERE their art – needs to continually learn, re-learn, buy a lifetime pass to.
So simple. So profound.