Sunday, July 19, 2009

the great question

letters to a young poet

Excerpt from Letter 4 of "Letters to a Young Poet" by R.M. Rilke

"My dear Mr. Kappus: ...Here, where I am surrounded by an enormous landscape, which the winds move across as they come from the seas, here I feel that there is no one anywhere who can answer for you those questions and feelings which, in their depths, have a life of their own; for even the most articulate people are unable to help, since what words point to is so very delicate, is almost unsayable. But even so, I think that you will not have to remain without a solution if you trust in Things that are like the ones my eyes are now resting upon. If you trust in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge. You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.
Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living; train yourself for that - but take whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself, and don't hate anything."

"Letters to a Young Poet", written by poet Ranier Maria Rilke at the turn of the century, was a correspondence with a 19-year-old Franz Kappus. Although Rilke received many letters, in Kappus, he saw a young man with similar circumstances-both were pressured to enter the same military academy and both were subject to the same pressures to abandon their creativity. The result was a 5 year correspondence in which Rilke shared his insights on living the creative life. This blog post is in response to a discussion that arose at dinner with a dear friend who is struggling with his creative purpose. When I became a mother and found that I had to go to great lengths to stay creative, I asked myself, "Is this really neccessary? Is it worth all the trouble? Why must I do this?" I spent so much time contemplating the questions that my art eventually disappeared and became something I used to do. What did not disappear, however, was the faint voice calling me to it and the feeling that something was amiss. I find that I still ask myself these questions, but that I need not stop the creative process. I trust that the answers will not come next month or even in 10 years, but that they will come if I heed to the calling of the creative soul-home.
Read all 10 of R.M. Rilke's letters here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

daily rituals #008

sunflower, pencil sketch
baby girl’s art workshop at st. elmo’s village inspired me to break out the drawing pad and get to work. i had no idea I was capable of drawing anything, let alone a flower. at every step of this drawing i doubted my ability to make any semblance of such a beautiful flower. still, i studied every leaf, admiring some more than others. it was like solving a puzzle as i tried to understand depth and light. i marveled at the bending of a leaf and the slight fuzz that grows on the stem. being a photographer, i am always choosing what to exclude from the frame. drawing is the opposite approach where you must choose what details you want to include. it was like exploring new regions of my brain. i was very much surprised at the outcome of my sunflower and proud of myself for seeing it through.

this one sunflower has inspired me to not only keep on drawing, but to trust in my own creative process and know that it will take me where I need to go. this week my personal life has taken an unexpected turn. this sunflower is teaching me not to focus on what the outcome may be--in the end it will indeed be a sunflower. instead, i am paying attention to the leaves, one at a time, admiring the beauty of each one. i continue on my journey--trusting my instincts, listening to wild woman, howling at the moon, and knowing that i am on the right path.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

the home town

san francisco, ca. 2008
view from kaiser hospital-geary

Saturday, July 4, 2009

july sky

volunteer milita. philippines. 2002
8.5x11 c-print

Every year around this time, the neighborhood is poppin’. Literally. The heat of the summer is beginning to settle in. The block starts to get hot. When fireworks start to pop off, I can’t help but pause for a moment and wonder if it was live ammunition. Drive-bys here are no ghetto fairy tale. They happen.

And it’s not just here. Bullets fly world wide. Bombs are bursting in air. On other parts of the globe, children fear the very sounds that give American children joy. While traveling in the Philippines, I photographed a group of volunteer militia. A few months prior, I had spent time with people who had fought with or supported guerilla forces. I heard horror stories about these volunteer militias. I thought of Leno Brocka’s, “Oropronobis”, a film about human rights violations committed by volunteer militias during the Aquino administration. I wanted to hate these men, but instead I thought of the tragedy of war itself--not the men holding the guns. They gave themselves to the lens without hestitation and with all honesty--the war machine cranking its gears right before my eyes.

On the Fouth of July, I remember that war is real. As I marvel at the beauty of the July sky, a part of me is quite and thankful for the privilege of entertainment and the opportunity to enjoy a summer night. I remember those I have met who have been in war. And I take a moment of silence for those who have lost their lives in the struggle.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

the little hater

smash on the little hater!
from one of my favorite video blogs: by jay smooth.