Christmas…

I’m going to get flak on how I go about this, but I figure I’ll try it anyhow…When it comes to the holidays, we think that we’ll make peace on earth possible, but as long as we hold on to racial pride as the be-all-end-all, we’re going to be screwed. How so? It’s peace on earth for all, not just a select few races; we need to put aside racial hatred and come together for a Christmas that, for once, isn’t plagued by arguments over race. Think about it: if we forget about the colour of our skin for just one night or two, we might get past this stupidity that’s plagued us. I’m not saying that we should forget the racial injustices, but I’m saying that we stop fighting over it for once and learn to listen to what the holiday truly means. True peace on earth came through the boy child in the manger, and it wasn’t race-dependent…It was for all men & women.

Now to stop being so insistent for once, I’ve come to think of winter & Christmas as a time of warmth, even in colder climates. Why? Because we have friends to be with and many different people that make up our circle of friends & family that make it a warm time of year…Or at least we should have. For those in broken places, don’t forget to hold on to the fact that there’s people out there that care about us; we have groups like UGM, Salvation Army & others that feed the homeless and, I’ve got to say, they come in where & when others won’t. Nowadays, we like to define everything, labeling nearly just about every little thing, but once, just once, this Christmas, let’s stop labeling every little thing and focus on what’s really important.

There’s times when we want to just forget about the holidays and I’m personally thinking it’s because of all the rampant commercialism out there that’s being thrown at us; it’s tiring and a little too much. What really warms the heart at Christmas is being with friends & family, not fighting it out for the last item in stock at the stores. When it comes to how we celebrate Christmas, the best stories aren’t dependent on one culture or one really specific way of doing something, but the ways in which different cultures (European, North American, African, Asian, etc.) go about celebrating it together as well as in their own groups. So, have yourselves a Merry Christmas!

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Storm the stronghold…

Now this one’s going to sound a little off, thanks to the title, but let me put it this way: the stronghold I’m referring to are the rampant ads & the push/desire for various things that we supposedly need to have. Christmas sales are there for one real, and sometimes disturbing purpose…make us buy more stuff. I’m not saying we should rush to the stores and buy everything that we can get our hands on, but rather storm the stronghold by refusing to let it get to us and drive credit card debt ever upwards.

I haven’t been exactly active photographically, or otherwise, in November and I really aim to change that this Christmas & winter season by getting out there and doing something that just might inspire someone. There’s plenty to do & see out there and I’d rather be one to really contribute to something, than just do nothing or add to the noise. Christmas is right around the corner and there’s just something about giving compared to receiving something; there’s a bit of a challenge when it comes to avoiding the stores because we’re so tempted to dive right on in to the sales. I’ve done this time & again to the point that I’m thinking that just the fact that the word sale might just hook me right in.

This Christmas, it’s a great time to get out once we’re all bundled up for the cold weather, or out in summer weather for warmer climates. We might as well storm the stronghold of the daily consumerism that seems to permeate everything around us; we can really do this much better if we get outside of the shopping malls and spend time with friends & family. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are truly about for most of us? I’m going to at least try to get outside and I hope that I can do something that might just inspire someone in the process.

Without the tree?

There’s something to be said by celebrating the holidays without the tree decorated in the living room, or even outside. What gets me about having a tree is the advertising from all the stores; if the tree we have means something to us, why do we need to go all out for some tree that we might just throw away at the end of the holidays. Having a tree in the living room, at least for me, is about having something for the family, or friends, to gather around, not to show off. I’d rather having something that means something than something that’s superficial. I get just as guilty as others do when it comes to being materialistic, especially when the latest sales are one or the holidays are approaching, so I’m not trying to blame anyone, just trying to point something out.

- Snow & Branches -
– Snow & Branches –

It says something when the weather outside isn’t too great and there’s snow on the trees, but it says something more when the tree inside is all shiny, but never really used or gathered around at all. Things like that tend to suck the meaning out of the holidays & out of Christmas altogether if we’re not careful. Sometimes, it helps to not have a tree because having one becomes a distraction from what Christmas is all about, making us think about the latest things we can get instead of the boy child in the manger. Christmas for me has become more so about the manger and recovering from any soreness from work (he last three months of the year are the busiest for me). The music playing around this time of year is just a welcome bonus, especially when it points me upwards instead of downwards.

It’s great having the days off, but for those that don’t, try not to make things difficult for them, because they’re working so that you don’t have to, or they’re there so that you can shop. We could all use a little more peace in the world, especially right now with all the crap that’s happening all around us. So, let’s just slow down, stop what we’re rushing to get before it sells out, and think about what’s really important this Christmas; let’s get past the abuses in Hollywood (by not letting them ruin Christmas for us) and try to salvage the holidays before we ruin their start.

Do I really want this?

There’s stuff that really bugs me from time to time and it comes down to the question of me wanting something and changing my mind. Do I really want this thing to happen? Do I really want this piece of tech or gear? It’s coming up on Christmas and the stores are going on with advertising about new stuff for sale; it draws me in and then I begin to wonder if I really need it or even want it. It’s like that with virtually everything, especially around this festive time of year…Materialism run amok, I guess.

I’m not going to vent against materialism again, but try to explain out the processes that I go through. I mean, I can get really good at things with what I have…I don’t really need the latest piece of tech to get what I want out of a photograph, or design. When the deals come for new tech, don’t get me wrong, I am intrigued, but I tend to either get too far into the sales, or just forget about them in the end. I’ve been trying to really think about how much the holidays are more for family and the real meaning for the season, the boy child in the manger, not so much about what the stores are selling at a somewhat decent price. The season is meant to inspire us, not make us want more stuff to fill our homes and deplete our wallets.

There’s just something about finding inspiration and what it can do to the person who finds it; it can’t really be bought, but it can be given. Just think, if we’d all just learnt to stop & think, myself included, then we’d really get to the point that we can start to make a change in someone’s life and maybe in our own as well. I personally think this world would be a better place if we’d just learn to think of others over ourselves at least once in a while. Do I really want this to happen? Yes…The answer really is a resounding, heart-pounding YES!

Lest we remember…

Sometimes I think we forget the sacrifices that the veterans made for us in the world wars; take for example the recent posting of pro-Nazi posters on the UBC (University of British Columbia) campus that hailed Nazi Soldiers as the ‘real’ heroes. As a graduate of SFU (Simon Fraser University), I can’t help but feel like the ‘rival’ university of UBC has dumber students, but they’re everywhere and it’s because we have the unnerving ability to forget things and disrespect people who make sacrifices…Just look at who’s the Canadian Prime Minister: he’s thought about taxing the military servicemen who protect this country!

If it wasn’t so sad, it might be a tiny bit funny, but this is the 21st Century and goodness knows we’ve lost almost all decency & respect for the generations that came before us; we want to do it all on our own. I hate to say this, but we cannot do this on our own…The past decade has shown us that we keep screwing it up. I’m just as guilty as the next person, but I think it’s time we forget about how important we think we are and really get in touch with those that came before us. Look at our news outlets like CNN: their front pages are all about the latest news that screams ME ME ME and nothing much about how others are being affected by our bad decisions. Both sides have got it wrong in one way or other and it’s becoming a daily contest of one-upmanship just to see who cane scream the loudest to get more views or website visits.

I’m tired of trying to have a kind of frosty view about the world around me when everything seems to be getting way out of whack. No wonder there are so many alternative news sites that barely research stories and then are counted as reliable by the public…In our rush to say anything, we’ve created the alt-right & alt-left just because we want to do whatever we think we should be able to do. In this day & age, I’m beginning to think we need a little more emphasis on inspiration & respect instead of all the emphasis of doing whatever we want. I want this to be more than just a morbid outlook on life because I don’t want to just accept things as they are, but do something that just might inspire someone…Maybe, just maybe, I might just inspire someone.

- Those Beams -
– Those Beams –

Inspiration…

Sometimes I think that there can be no other word that could so easily make or break any one thing than the word inspiration. What I mean by this is that inspiration can provide fuel for the fire and a lack of it can really break a creative streak. It’s like that in sports as well because, when a team has inspiration, they play all that much harder to get that victory…I wouldn’t want to be up against an opponent that has everything to gain and nothing to lose in sports. Sometimes it’s a family member, a friend, or something we’ve seen along the way during our day that inspires us; whatever that thing is, it’s there to get us going.

A good old story about faith, despite the odds, is something that will get me nearly every time; think of the person without much of a chance against a really bad diagnosis and then, with people surrounding him, or her, the person decides to live the rest of life to the fullest…Then, against all odds, recovers from the illness. That kind of story can just as easily inspire someone to do more with their lives just because it becomes an example to others who hear the story and it has an impact on them. Thinking about it, impact is what every person is really looking for because we all want to be known and leave an imprint from our time on this world; I don’t really care for fame, but it would sure be nice to have an impact by inspiring someone.

Stuff sometimes happens that we have no personal control over and we get all uptight about it; I’ve done this so many times it’s getting pathetic to say the least. Sometimes what we need is someone to be there for us and let us fire away with our concerns & troubles; I’m saying this as the kind of person that finds sharing a little harder to do than most. Maybe there’s a reason why we need others because I’m thinking that there’s really no way we can do this on our own; all I can say is that if you need help, get some. For the rest of us, get out there, get inspired, and get do doing stuff that might just inspire someone & lift their spirits.

Enough of the politics…

Ever think that maybe, just maybe, we’ve seen so much of this political crap that even the sky’s beginning to cry at just how crazy stupid it’s gotten? We’ve got football players kneeling for the anthem instead of taking the flag seriously & engaging with the world at large and politicians that are gambling with the fortunes of the citizens they serve. If you’ve got an issue, speak out, not just sit out the anthem and the same thing goes for those who were shocked that one of Hollywood’s own could be so messed up…You didn’t at all expect this to happen when the focus was on materialism & material gain?!?! Come on now…This had to come out sooner or later because it was just a matter of time before something came to light.

- Raindrops on Purple -
– Raindrops on Purple –

Now before I go on riffing on Hollywood some more, I’ve got to stop and think that I’ve gotten nothing shining to put myself against Hollywood because, most likely, if fame had gotten to me the way it did to them, I’d be the same way. Given the chance to choose between fame or just being myself without material wealth, I’d have to admit that I might just take fame, but then I’d hope that my conscious, with guidance from the Creator first & foremost would keep me from making that choice. Sometimes we’ve got to wonder if the temporal is really worth it in the end when it causes so much pain & crap to happen. It’s got to be about inspiration, not we can get out of it for ourselves, that makes something really worth it.

It really stinks when we get stuck in a rut and then we keep hearing about all the crap that happens around us which doesn’t make things any better. It’s at the point where we just have to tune out the crap and try to get better at where we are, finding a way out through others helping us because we should know by now that we have a hard time getting anywhere lately. What makes this worse is the rampant politicization from both sides and even more so from the left (in my opinion); so, enough of the politics and get down to the humanity of it all.

Stereotypes…

What really gets me ticked off these days are the many comparisons that so-called normal society makes about specific people and certain things; a big part of this is the stereotypes that are often implied when this happens. When we compare one person to the next person, we just might be saying that the one is a better person because of who they seem to be and what they say they stand for: a guy from the countryside isn’t as smart as the guy from the city because he doesn’t have the same education that the city slicker has.

- Raindrops on Purple -
– Raindrops on Purple –

This integrates itself into the various aspects of our lives in what we eat to what music we listen to, what we do for a hobby, who we vote for, and where we live; for instance, there are certain neighbourhoods where only certain people should go, according to so-called rules. Who says that the average joe with nothing more than a high school degree can’t live in a decent area of the city and vote more conservatively than the next guy? Stereotypes suck us in, thanks to certain changing rules & labels that mainstream society puts on us. The same goes for the arts: who says the average artist from the West can’t be drawn in by art from East & actively pursue that style in his art? I’ve got to make a disclaimer here: I’m really inspired more so by Asian painting than European sometimes because of the way landscapes are treated (just take a look at how ancient Chinese artists painted landscapes like the Huangshan mountain range).

- Raindrops on a Rose -
– Raindrops on a Rose –

The above photographs are a result of me tinkering with blur & distance, nowhere near the level of those ancient painters, but they are a direct result of seeing the ancient paintings of the artistic greats and wanting to do better, using blur to portray beauty & emotion while they, the ancient painters, used colour, or lack of,  & technique/style to get across the beauty & emotion of the landscapes they painted; I wanted to make the first about distance, on a small scale, while the ancient paintings were about using objects & weather (like fog) to convey scale, distance or size. The last photograph is more of me reverting to type and taking a photograph that doesn’t deviate from what I’m used to. What I’m ranting on about, and trying to get across, in my own nonsensical way, is that we sometimes need to take a peek outside our little world and see what others are doing, for inspiration, no matter who or what we are; please note that I’m not talking about matters of faith here, just matters of art & society outside of it.

Time…

Thinking aloud about what time really means, I’ve come to think of it as more than just the passage of events & moments. Photographers deal with scenes, photographing in on a set time like 1/500 of a second or even compressing 4 minutes into a single photograph. When certain events that divide or unite us, like the assaults in Edmonton or the shooting in Las Vegas, we either take time to slow down & ask why, or lash out, like the mainstream media has, at the politicians & those in charge. This post has taken some time for me to get to, not only because of a lack of time or my own laziness, but trying to find the right, or decent, words to say.

For me, personally, I do care about gun control, wondering why we’re so fascinated by weaponry, but I’ve come to realize that it’s the person who pulls the trigger; the paintbrush isn’t to blame when the painter has a painting that turns out bad, nor the camera when the photographer’s shot turns out crappy. For me, it’s about how much we’ve messed up that we want to blame others for our mistakes, something I do all too often. From the outside looking in, the mainstream media is always looking to blame and seldom looks to examine; I’m looking right at you CNN & company. I’m not going to walk further into the gun control debate, because, for me, it’s about the mentality behind the weapons, not just the weapons themselves.

Change begins with us taking a stand & doing what we’re called to do, which means not giving in to the ones who focus on the spur of the moment reaction. It’s not about popularity, it’s about doing, or at least trying to do, what should be done to lift each other up past the labels that mainstream society puts on us. It can really stink when we get caught up in the mainstream and feel like there’s no other alternative…And by mainstream, I mean both the left & right political ends of society. When we get stuck in that rut, we forget to inspire others most of the time and end up caring much more about personal standing than really caring for others.

The beat vs. the meaning…

Thinking about it, we often tend to focus on the beat compared to what the meaning of the lyrics are; I’m so guilty of this as well. We’re so taken back by how much a beat moves us that we don’t really think about the lyrics themselves. In this day & age, we’re focused on the beat & melody that we forget to dig a little deeper and find out what the song really means; I guess it comes with the territory when we fully adopt the materialism that mainstream media pushes our way, along with the shallow, biased news stories.

When was that last time we really stopped to tell someone we care about them and when was the last time we tried to inspire them? We’re so focused on our daily rhythm that we easily forget about those around us who just might be needing a simple word of encouragement or a helping hand. I’m not talking about the street hustlers here, but those people that come into our daily lives and seem to just be looking for a little help, but don’t really ask for it at all. If our lives are always go-go-go, then we just might be in need of a little breather from it all now & then to help us get a refresh.

Thinking about it, there’s so many wondering what’s happening that we might just need to stop awhile and lend a helping hand. Most of the time, it’s not our place to really ask why, but it might just be our place to really help out a person in time of need. There’s so much out there that goes wrong every now & then, especially in politics & money, that taking a time out with a friend might just be what we, and they, need right now.