“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
― Lewis Carroll (Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland)
“Have I gone mad? I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.” – Lewis Carroll (The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland)
There is a deep seeded part of me which knows intuitively that our purpose here as human beings is to create, and in doing so, expand and grow like the universe itself. Every single person on our planet is a creator, and together we are co-creators who are continually influencing and impacting one another’s creations. Some people are working with us and feeding our expansion and as a result the expansion of the world. Other’s are impeding our progress to the detriment and delay of individual development and therefore the evolution of humanity. This is not to say that all of us are artists or wish to pursue the arts as a lifestyle choice. It is to say that every single one of us is continually having ideas that begin small in our minds and then become reality as they grow and we create them into being. Every day you decide what to wear; what to make for dinner; creative solutions to problems at work; how to decorate your home; how to cut your hair; or how to plan your vegetable garden. There is really no way to get through a single day without creating. We are hard-wired to create things and share them. This is fact. This is our collective human experience.
It is strange to me that so many people seem unaware of their own creativity and how they take for granted all the many things they create each day, which each began as a simple thought. What’s even stranger is how devastatingly hard society is on those who have embraced their creativity fully and choose more elaborate and intentional creative ideas thereby honouring their human ability to think a thought and create it into being. It seems in fact, that our society is not set up at all to support creativity as a pursuit, even though it is such an undeniable and significant part of every human being. Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say. Those of us who call ourselves artists or creatives who have accepted making things as our life’s purpose, have been simultaneously held up as inspirational or groundbreaking, while at the same time being criticized for being too different, too impractical, or out of touch with reality. It’s a conundrum. Somewhere along the line, we have created a very limited view of how creative we are allowed to be while still being socially accepted and not considered weird, un-relatable, or crazy.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
The more I have allowed my creativity to flow and be seen, the more myself I have felt than ever before in my life. It seems that the more myself I feel, the less the mainstream world is able to accept me and the less I am able to accept it. Now it seems as though what I once thought was real and normal appears like total madness to me, and what appears like madness to mainstream popular culture is what is real and true. It’s as though by being true to myself and embracing my natural instincts to create and expand, the veil of bullshit has lifted and I see the cage called normal or reality for what it is. It’s a terrible trap, crafted and upheld by those whose hearts are riddled with scars from past hurts that have them blinded by fear, insecurity and a deep desire for external acceptance and approval. Their fear mongering and criticisms are there to keep you insecure, ashamed and fearful of yourself and your desire to expand, by judging and shaming you back into your cage over and over again.
Freeing myself of this cage is an on-going process, which I now understand, will be a lifetime effort. What makes it easier and more joyful is the wonderful collection of other creative people I have had the pleasure of co-creating with. We do indeed attract those of like mind to us, and we inspire one another to do better, be better and at all costs to stay free with our creativity and grow. I have heard it said, that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. If I look back over my life’s path, I can see clear evidence that this is indeed true. As I noted before, some people feed our natural drive towards expansion by being supportive, but more importantly, by being creative themselves. Others impede our progress by having narrow views of potential and staying small and fearful and as a result, keeping others around them small too. People don’t always realize they are doing this because they are so misguided by their own fear and insecurities that they have not been able to find themselves and be free. No one can free another, we must free ourselves and find our way back to who we actually are, not who others want us to be. If we surround ourselves with those who want to see us grow and are actively pursuing their own growth, together we tap into the natural momentum and flow we are all meant to experience, and we become unstoppable.
Embrace the creator that you are. Don’t limit your creative potential to the elaborate order you place at Starbucks. Allow yourself to attempt that complex recipe that’s been rattling around inside your head. Sit down and just write that story idea you’ve had since you were 16. Pick up that guitar you’ve been ignoring in the corner, or dust off Grandma’s piano. Grab whatever camera you’ve got now and go shoot! For the love of yourself, accept that you create naturally every single day and you have the capacity to give it your full attention and do something spectacular with it. You don’t have to devote your life to it, just stop trying to convince yourself and everyone else that you are not creative, and that creative people are somehow special, and you are just a regular person. Poppycock! Give yourself permission to create what comes naturally to you and you may feel, possibly for the first time in your life, the seed of your truest self. The seed that if allowed to grow, will blossom into originality. Your originality is precisely what this mad world needs, but, you have to be brave enough to go down the rabbit hole.
SPECIAL NOTE: A few days before this shoot, I posted on Instagram that I was looking forward to seeing what Mother Nature had in store for us this time. It has become my regular experience that when we shoot outdoors, as we often do, we are always graced by some unexpected addition from Mother Nature that always adds something spectacular that there’s no way we could possibly produce ourselves. We once had a group of snakes show up for a fairytale witch shoot; a storm roll in over the lake creating huge waves and moody skies for a beach shoot; giant magical snowflakes for a New Year’s shoot, and a whole herd of deer that just hung out during a Bavarian Alpine shoot. When we arrived at the cabin in the woods to shoot this Alice in Wonderland theme, we were greeted by the largest infestation of fish-flies I have ever seen in my life. At first I was disappointed (not to mention grossed out), since having them in the shots would be un-avoidable. I soon realized, that if crazy, weird and whimsical was really what I was going for, than Mother Nature had indeed outdone herself once again by taking the madness up several notches for us. I am learning to trust the process and to place my trust and faith in my greatest co-creator yet, Mother Nature herself.