Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Odd is Beautiful

If you've ever noticed, I like the odd.  Anything that is slightly off, I'd choose it in a heartbeat over something that is "normal" or considered "perfect".  Put two items seemingly identical next to each other and you can bet I'll choose the one that is off.  For example, I was shopping at my favorite clothing store in Burbank (It's A Wrap - where they sell "used" clothes from film & television's wardrobe departments) and I found three silkscreened t-shirts.  They were identical except one of the silkscreen prints was printed on backwards.  I, of course, bought the one with the backwards silkscreen.  Perfectly odd and interesting.  I am intrigued by what looks different, what looks out of the ordinary. 

I am so comfortable choosing the odd and have always been for as long as I can remember.  When I was six-years-old, during a visit to my grandparent's house in Gallup, NM just before Thanksgiving, my family and I ventured to a city park.  I was a fan of playing on the bars.  Remember those days?  Hopping up on the bars, spinning and flipping around?  Well, back then, that was my thing.  I played on the bars.  At this playground, I ran over to the parallel bars.  For those of you who spent your childhood prior to the 90's, you'll remember that our playgrounds consisted of mostly metal equipment sometimes paired with wooden posts.  Nothing like the playground equipment of today and certainly not padded with wood chips or the like.  We played on dirt (with rocks in it) on metal equipment.  These parallel bars were long metal 10 foot poles anchored by wooden posts on each side.  Not unusual.  One of the parallel bars was bent the other was perfectly straight.  I distinctly remember thinking to myself as I approached the bars, "I'm not at all bothered by that bent one, I'll hop up on that one." (Or something like that.)  So I did.  I grabbed the bar and hopped up lifting myself up so that my waist would have met my hands.  But I did not.  Instead, the wooden posts broke and the bar came down right on top of me across my stomach sending me flat on my back to the ground.  Here I was, this scrawny six-year-old, flat on my back with this long metal pole on top of me.  Like those stories you hear about women lifting cars off of their children or something crazy, my stick-like arms mustered the strength of a 12 year-old and pushed that bar off of me.  Long story short (and after a trip to the emergency room where we was told I was fine), this attraction and acceptance of the odd left me vomiting blood on the way home to Albuquerque later that day, Dad receiving a police escort to the hospital after being pulled over for speeding, a tube down my nose which was the conduit for ice-cold water to the stomach to induce vomiting, internal bleeding from no one knew where, a not fun hospital stay in Gallup, a lawsuit from a very angry Nana to the city, a long trip back home to find out I was about a pint of blood short and finally a nifty little blood transfusion.

Still, I find myself drawn to what's different.  And honestly, I know I'd still choose the bent bar over the straight one today.  I can't help it. 

Typically, we are drawn to symmetry and things "colored within the lines" in most every aspect.  This is not wrong of course.  There is no right or wrong here.  I'm talking preference.  Preference and contentment.  I prefer the odd and am perfectly content with the imperfect.  I have been told that I need to stop trying to be perfect.  I find it funny that some see me as that because I'm so drawn to the "imperfect".  I strive to do the best at what I am doing when I am given a task.  I like to be "put together".  I like a clean house.  These things do not have to do with me being perfect.  They have to do with what I am a steward over.  Different altogether and for another discussion. 

So, please forgive me if you find me staring at something that you may find odd.  I am simply appreciating beauty.  Odd is beautiful.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What inspires you?

"What inspires you?"  I asked this question once to a group of people I considered very creative.  And by creative, this time I mean creative in the artist sense.  (Someday I may write about being creative and not in the artistic sense, because we were all created to be creative - but that's a whole different discussion).  The answers I got sort of threw me.  I was so sort of flabbergasted, the only real answer I can remember had something to do with that person's abilities and how great they were.  Odd.  Perhaps I didn't communicate clearly the question.  I seem to have had trouble in the area of communication lately, so this is a viable reason.  Or perhaps we keep our inspiration to ourselves.  Kind of like a protective shell.  We can't let others know what inspires us out of fear of being judged or maybe because if we tell others, some magical force will cancel out our creativity because we revealed the chink in our armor.  Isn't that what it really is sometimes?  We are afraid if we speak it aloud like some superstition we'll never again be able to create.  I think that could be it.  Fear is also a killer.  Fear of being judged.  If I would have asked to question to artists mature in their craft or even in life would I have gotten different answers?  Deeper, truthful answers?  I don't think one's vanity was truly their inspiration.  That must have been their struggle for words or just their misunderstanding of the question. 

After all, art is a personal expression of ourselves so a finished product is not so different than the source of inspiration except that the finished product is, well, finished.  Could the source of inspiration be much more personal than the actual product?  I think I can be fairly sure this is true, at least for me.  Perhaps I should not speak for all artists.  I know when I write, the source of inspiration is flooded in emotion, usually deep struggles, confusion, sadness, hopelessness and anger.  I don't know why, but those are the things that inspire my writings.  But those aren’t the only things.  Beautiful things, love, hope and joy also inspire me, just usually not to write.  They inspire me to move, to go, to pursue, to try.  The things that inspire me to move come in all shapes and sizes, they range from God's creations in nature and people and also other's art.  Whether on canvas, film, a sculpture in bronze or clay, notes on a scale or a melody sung by one or choirs, movements on pointe or the music of taps on feet, I am inspired.  All these things bring me joy and tears.  All these things make me want to be creative.  My soul bleeds tears of joy and pain when I see a beautiful dancer laying it all out on the line for all to see.  There is just about nothing as beautiful as that to me.  So, when I see creative people creating, I am inspired.  I long to tell stories of deep pain and hurt.  I long to tell stories of healing and hope.  I, like the one struggling to convey their inspiration to me, struggle with how I will create.  I struggle with the how, with the what.  Dancers dance.  Musicians play.  Painters paint.  Sculptors sculpt.  Filmmakers make movies.  Singers sing.  Writers write.  What if I don't fit into any of those things? How will I create?  Never focusing on one thing, mediocre is my partner and frustration is my best friend.  How?  What?  Questions I must find answers to so that not only can I answer the question, "What inspires you?" but so that I may allow myself to move and create.