I have known for a while what I wanted to say in this post. However, I have been struggling to put it into words. It has already been said so well by others, both here and elsewhere. Then, as so often happens, I stumble upon something that says it so much better than I ever could.
If you’re a photographer, you probably know David duChemin. I own several of his photography books and follow him on various social media, including reading his blog. He is an amazing photographer but he is so much more than that. In his recent post on his website, he has very eloquently put into words what I want to say.
"We are not hardwired to absorb everything we expose ourselves to. Like time and money, there is only so much attention we can pay before we’re empty. Much as we’d like to believe our brains have an infinite capacity, that our souls can absorb it all, they cannot. We barely have the capacity to love and serve our friends and family with the depth they deserve and to act locally on things that matter to us, let alone to absorb the endless stream of news on terror and Trump, and the darkness that seems to ever wait outside our doors.
"Art has long been a way of keeping that darkness at bay. A response to the fears. Whatever the medium, on some level, the artist sits at the workbench, the canvas, the darkroom, making candles against the gloom. When art becomes the first victim of those fears, we have lost. Fear is an auto-immune disease, attacking our very defenses, the only cure for which is love and hope expressed.
"It might be time to turn it off. Time to shut out the news channels with their varied agendas. They aren’t showing us anything new. They aren’t giving us hope. They aren’t changing our minds. But they’re sucking us dry. On any given day we can consume (does it some days feel more like being consumed?) or we can create. We can grow more fearful of the darkness or we can resolutely make our candles, an act of hope and creativity that illuminates not only our way but the path of others.” (Emphasis mine.)
He goes on, but I will let you go and read the rest at your leisure. It’s worth the time, believe me.
Are you finding yourself consumed with all the bad things going on in the world, and even in our own country? Do you fret and stew about all of it, wondering where it will end? Or are you using your art to “illuminate the darkness”? As for me, I am shutting the negative out and focusing on the positive things in my life – family, flowers, friends. I’m living in gratitude, not fear.
Am I burying my head in the sand, being a cockeyed optimist or a pollyanna? Maybe but I can’t change the world and I will NOT live in fear of what I cannot change. Life is too short for that. There is so much in life to be celebrated. So you won’t find me reading the newspaper or watching the TV news or tuned in to Facebook 24/7. You will find me with my camera in my hands, capturing the beauty of this world and sharing it with others. As Dotti put it in her post here, let’s “brighten the corner where we are”. This I will try to do.
And as duChemin said:
“Time to open our eyes a little wider to the beauty of it all, to find the wonder . . . If the artists don’t do it, who will?”
Won’t you join me in illuminating the path? Brightening the corner? Opening our eyes to the wonder and beauty around us and focusing on that? We may not be able to change the world but we can change ourselves and our reactions to the world. If every person could do that, that would be enough.