In essence: all things, including truth, are relative but what matters in the end is who’s the daddy.
@Miamoretti @Caitlinmoe, tearing up the stage in Austin, TX. Brilliant photoset by @MadLabPhoto!
Perez Hilton’s One Night In Austin w/ B.o.B., Mia Moretti & Caitlin Moe, Timbaland, Dev, Kreayshawn, Dragonette, Cher Lloyd, Kimbra, Ed Sheeran, Rosi Golan@Perezhilton @Timbaland @Kreayshawn @Miamoretti @Caitlinmoe @Dragonette @kimbramusic @devishot @cherlloyd @edsheeran #madlabphotography.com
New 2nd Ave. subway; still under construction and making my commute to work more interesting. (Taken with instagram)
"Outer travel at best only reflects the inner journey, and at worst substitutes for it. The world you perceive only provides symbols for what you seek. The sacred journey is inside you; before you can find what you’re looking for in the world, you have to find it within. Otherwise, a master may greet you, but you’ll walk right past without hearing." - Dan Millman, ‘Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior’
I spend a lot of time trying to get somewhere; if I study enough, I’ll be a better photographer, if I buy this it will enable me to do that, if I cogitate long enough I will find inner peace, if I get a cab I can get to my class on time, if I walk faster I can get home sooner, etc.
Now drop the destination out of all that; practice everything, and everything is practice. Just BE a better photographer by BEING a photographer. Do I really need to spend money on this in order to do that; do I even need to do that? Just BE peaceful and happy - why on earth would I wait? Yes, I may need a cab to get to class on time…but I’ll still arrive a little frazzled, and won’t have enjoyed my time on the way there. And if all I am thinking about is getting home, then I will fail to enjoy the walk, and any chances to learn something from it (whether it is a new sight, or proprioceptive feedback letting me know that I’ve strained a muscle, or an insight into how to move a bit more efficiently).
If we have a destination, then, by definition, our current actions are merely the ones needed to get there. If, on the other hand, we drop the idea of a destination - e.g. home is no longer an end-point to my walk - then we are far more open to and aware of what is going on around us. I think a lot about “living in the present”, and recently have come to see that this very activity often prevents that, as when I think I am living in the past and in the future: as I remember what I have learned, and theorize about what I can do with this knowledge to get to my destination - living in the present.
When I actually start simply being present, and practicing that, the thinking is still there but it does not carry me away. Which opens me up to feeling happy and peaceful. Or, sometimes, sad, or angry, or nervous, if the situation calls for it. The trick is to not let emotions carry me away, either. Stephen Fry’s analogy (though specifically about depression) is very apropos; emotions are like the weather - they come and they go, and there is nothing we can do about that except experience them and know that they will pass.
Buried emotions have a nasty habit of asserting themselves in other ways. My emotions are part of the energy that get me through the day - and an emotionally intense day can leave me feeling physically exhausted. It takes energy to NOT feel emotions, which also makes me tired. And, as I have found through pilates, yoga, and massage, “unexpressed emotion is stored in the muscles of the body” (Wilhelm Reich). Do you clench your jaw when angry? Tense your shoulders when irritated or anxious?
So these days I am try to turn the concept of where I am headed (metaphorically or physically) from being a destination to simply being a direction. While I am headed along that path, I try to “practice everything”, and learn whatever is available to me along the way. And I still get to where I am going, then the direction may change, but the path always continues.
A final example. Work sometimes onerous and frustrating. Jury duty was quite boring. When I focus on the *end of the day* as a destination - somewhere I wanted to be NOW, and not at work/jury duty - then not only do I lose a lot of opportunity for practice and learning, I tend to suppress negative emotions of being frustrated and/or bored. When I drop the destination and the “NOW”, reading a book becomes more than a way to pass the time. I am able to focus on my breathing and relax, not merely distract myself from the current situation. (And adversity is a great way to learn on many levels.)
A phrase that has come into existence for me - something created out of concepts I have gleaned from the writings of Michael Crichton in “Travels” and Dan Millman in his Peaceful Warrior books, and from the sayings of a couple of close friends - “I’m here now, so I am going to enjoy myself. I *choose* to be happy.” Maybe not giddy with joy, but certainly not miserable.
Naturally all of this is MUCH easier said than done. So I keep practicing everything; walking, washing dishes, breathing, dealing with a difficult user, being upset at making a mistake, being sick (another unusual but great place to learn; listen to your body!), and so on and so forth.
There is no destination, only the path you are currently following that may or may not lead you to where you think you are headed. After all, having the concept of a destination in place allows for the possibility of not reaching it or perhaps missing it entirely. Without it, you will always wind up *somewhere*, for a moment, and more often than not it is a place worth being, if you are open to learning from it.
Well, here is a big collection of a great many things that are important to me; music, the cello, passion, inspiration, charity, education, innovation, and being kind, and fair, and giving.
IT ONLY TAKES A GIRL
Around Thanksgiving last year a high school student wrote asking for permission to use my music in a video. Gabriella Runnels was applying to Tulane University and she hoped to get a full scholarship through the John Hainkel Louisiana Scholars Award. As part of her application, Gabriella made a video about a subject she care’s deeply about: the plight of girls in the developing world. She wrote:
“The truth is, the issues of child marriages, female genital mutilation, etc. are allextremely relevant and important, and even if I don’t get the scholarship, I still plan on using this video to bring awareness to these issues. “
My policy is to always give permission to students to use my music in their projects. I just ask them to credit me. I told Gabriella as much, and she posted her video “It Only Takes A Girl” to YouTube and made a webpage for it.
As often happens when someone passionate channels their energy towards a creative project….it’s a really good video, and it went viral. So far it’s had over 350,000 views.
Gabriella then made a blog for it as a platform to talk about things she cares about, books she reads, charities she supports, and so on. She wrote on December 19:
“Over the past few days, I have been getting a lot of emails saying, “Great video! Very inspiring. Now, what can I do?”
I’m so glad you asked.
There is a ton of stuff you can do, but probably the easiest and fastest is to donate! Even if it’s not much, every little bit makes a difference. For example, $25 can by a smokeless stove (important for improving indoor air quality), $20 can buy a family health checkup, and $10 can buy 2 fruit trees or 8 pounds of vegetable seeds (The International Humanitarian Foundation)!
On my webpage, I have a link to donate to the Girl Effect, an organization that raises awareness, collects donations, and gives money to various projects that help girls in the developing world. You can even donate in honor of someone you love or in memory of someone you have lost.”
Yesterday, Gabriella wrote to tell me that links from her video page have raised $30,000 for Global Giving and….it should come as no surprise…..that she got the full 4-year scholarship to Tulane.
It’s such a beautiful story that I started weeping when I read her email. Gabriella makes me so hopeful for the future, which coincidentally is what the song “Optimist” is all about (I wrote it for my son just before he was born, to declare my optimism for the future he will live in). I think look forward to seeing what she does next.
Congratulations Gabriella. You are an inspiration to me!!