Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Keep Going

Burrowing Owl
Yeah, I know.  I’ll spare you the details of my existential crisis.  I’ll just say that June was a challenging month, during which I didn’t feel particularly creative.  I neither shot nor traveled much.

This sort of discomfort has a purpose, though.  It urges us to look at the big picture and to consider new perspectives, especially mental ones. After all, when we’re happy, we’re unlikely to be motivated to learn and grow.  We don’t want to change anything.

Paul Andrews proposed the “Analytical Rumination Hypothesis” (I’ll be brief, I promise) which posits that, when we have tough stuff to sort out, we need to focus on these issues while avoiding distracting stimuli and activities.  When we feel lousy we avoid most everything, so everyday slumps have a purpose.  Fascinating stuff, but this perspective doesn’t make these interludes feel more pleasant.

Beer with a view, San Clemente CA
Toward the end of the month, I picked up Austin Kleon’s book, Keep Going. I loved the other two in this sort-of series as well.  They’re a bit like graphic non-fiction and deeply inspirational.  In one of those mind-boggling coincidences, this book is about continuing to be creative when you’re bogged down, with chapter titles like “Every day is groundhog day” (create some daily structure), “When in doubt, tidy up” (procrastinate work with other work), “Build a bliss station” (find places of inspiration and flow), “Forget the noun, do the verb” (don’t waste time on self-labels; just move forward), and my favorite, “Demons hate fresh air” (go outside and move to banish the monsters of self-doubt.)

Looking back, I see that I was doing some of these things instinctively.

Many of you know that my husband and I are enduring the thousand tiny decisions inherent in building a house.  Then there’s the challenge of putting the other house on the market, firing an unprofessional real estate agent, and being unsure whether I’m arriving or departing.  My computer, camera gear, and I now live in Yarnell.  We’re mostly getting mail here and, though we have just 700 square feet, Marco and I are managing to get along. I admire Tiny House People but, in my family, we do better with a bit more space.

So, I’m feeling rather overwhelmed, but there have been precious opportunities to distract myself with other kinds of work.  House décor decisions are creative.  Sort-of.

I did have a road trip planned mid-month, but instead was laid up with a health issue.  While on involuntary R & R, I started scrolling through my Facebook photo feed and was reminded of the richness and blessings in my life.  I shook myself by my figurative shoulders and felt a bit better; perhaps a bit less sorry for myself. 

San Clemente Pier
Family visits in California are sometimes productive creatively.  Typically, I get up early (while the others sleep) and make photographs.  This year’s Marine Layer (“June Gloom”) was pernicious and there was no sunshine for my entire 5-day visit.  I came home with a few gloomy Black and Whites, but didn’t feel creatively triumphant.  Bike rides and kayaking in Dana Point Harbor were good for my attitude, at least, and the fresh air helped banish the demons.

Dykinga Reception, Etherton Gallery, Tucson
I had a lovely weekend trip to Tucson, spending time with old friends and attending Monsoon Con, which is a day-long event for storm chasers.  I’m not one of those but did enjoy combing through the technical information and learning about weather.  Afterward my friend and I had the pleasure and inspiration of Jack Dykinga’s Grand Canyon Exhibit opening at the Etherton Gallery.  The lovely chat afterward with Jack and Jeff Kida (Photo Editor at Arizona Highways Magazine and my treasured mentor, though he doesn’t much seem to like the designation) was a great inspiration.  The whole weekend seemed like an “Artist Date,” as Julia Cameron encouraged in The Artist’s Way.

Or, perhaps a “bliss station.”

Burrowing Owlets
Last weekend a friend and I had some great fun with a group of burrowing owls in the outskirts of Phoenix.  I’m feeling the first bit of Mojo returning. Wish me luck?

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