Since time immemorial people have been recording their lives and surroundings. As far back as the Stone Age people recorded the world around them on the walls of caves in the form of art. They depicted the animals they shared an environment with and recorded hunting events. They reflected on the world around them and set it to stone in the same way we set it to paper today.
This reflection on the world and our place in it is an unavoidable aspect of being human. It’s what we do. We observe both our internal and external worlds, and try to make sense of them. Naturally, with the rise of literacy came the rise of the diary as daily record for the masses.
“Swiftly, swiftly, record your thoughts before they are forever lost in time.”
The earliest reference to a diary as a book in which one recorded daily life was in Ben Jonson’s 1605 comedy, Volpone. In 17th century England diary keeping became quite popular with people recording all kinds of different aspects of life. Like today, there were many kinds of diaries you could commit to keeping.
In John Beadle’s 1656 Diary of a Thankful Christian he wrote:
“‘We have our state diurnals, relating to national affairs. Tradesmen keep their shop books. Merchants their account books. Lawyers have their books of pre[c]edents. Physitians have their experiments. Some wary husbands have kept a diary of daily disbursements. Travellers a Journall of all that they have seen and hath befallen them in their way. A Christian that would be more exact hath more need and may reap much more good by such a journal as this. We are all but stewards, factors here, and must give a strict account in that great day to the high Lord of all our wayes, and of all his wayes towards us’.” (Source)
While Beadle was making use of the diary genre to keep a record of his life as a Christian for God, many others were using it to record other elements of life that were important to them. Four centuries later we continue to do the same.
Continue reading The Human Tradition of Keeping A Diary
Earlier I shared a quote by William Thackery about the two most engaging powers of a photograph.
“The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new”
As a photography enthusiast I think that capturing something new is part of the passion. We all want to get that shot of something people rarely see or, if we’re lucky enough, something no one has ever seen before. We go to new corners of our cities or travel to distant shores to capture the new.
But what about breathing new life into the familiar of our lives? Thackery’s quote got me thinking about how I can use the familiar to become a better photographer.
It isn’t easy to make the familiar new. You’ve got to position yourself both physically and mentally in a new place to see the familiar differently, to envision how we can portray it differently, and thus make it new.
As we begin 2017 some are thinking about new photography projects and others may be thinking about resolutions. Endeavouring to make the familiar new could be a great project to improve your photography but it can be so much more.
Looking at our every day lives with fresh eyes and capturing it from a different perspective may well give us a renewed perspective on our lives. It could be a creative practice of mindfulness. You may find you are surrounded by more beauty than you were aware of and you may see all the things you can change to make things better for yourself.
Wishing you all a prosperous 2017!
I’ve read a few different books about creativity within the last 2 years written by different types of creatives. I’ve read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert who is a writer, the artist Austin Kleon’s two books Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work, and most recently The Crossroads of Should and Must by artist Elle Luna.
I’ve enjoyed all of these books and while you might be wondering how many books about creativity you can read before it gets monotonous I’ve noted that every creative has their own way of conjuring creativity and has had different experiences within their various creative fields.
“Creativity is not a gift from the gods, says Twyla Tharp, bestowed by some divine and mystical spark. It is the product of preparation and effort, and it’s within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it. All it takes is the willingness to make creativity a habit, an integral part of your life: In order to be creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative. In The Creative Habit, Tharp takes the lessons she has learned in her remarkable thirty-five-year career and shares them with you, whatever creative impulses you follow — whether you are a painter, composer, writer, director, choreographer, or, for that matter, a businessperson working on a deal, a chef developing a new dish, a mother wanting her child to see the world anew. When Tharp is at a creative dead end, she relies on a lifetime of exercises to help her get out of the rut, and The Creative Habit contains more than thirty of them to ease the fears of anyone facing a blank beginning and to open the mind to new possibilities.” (GoodReads)
Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit is about her approach to creativity as a choreographer. You don’t have to be interested in dance to enjoy this book because it is firmly centred on her creativity method. I enjoyed reading the book. She is smart and interesting and naturally this makes for good reading. Her approach is completely different from what I’ve previously read.
Her advice is very practical and comes with exercises. While I didn’t feel the exercise sections were really necessary after reading her chapters, she goes into detail and some of you may well find these sections helpful. If you’re interested in creativity you will probably enjoy this.
I have found that I’ve read many books at just the time I needed them, no matter whether they were fiction or non fiction, and on occasion the order in which I’ve read some books has been just right that it helped me fully digest or appreciate the books that came later.
This is true of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle for me. I’m sure by now everyone has heard of this book. It has been translated into over 30 languages and even Oprah sings its praises. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages but honestly if I’d read it before now (no pun intended) I’m not sure I would have got the message. Earlier this year I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse which led me on internet travels of Buddhist thought and I’m currently reading Eknath Easwaran’s translation of The Dhammapada whose introduction was very interesting reading. Both those books got me into the right frame of mind for The Power of Now.
It’s not the easiest self help book to get through. At first I wasn’t really comfortable with the question answer style of certain parts as I prefer a narrative style but you do get used to it. You may or may not be familiar with some of the ideas that form the basis for Tolle’s message. Your familiarity with or exposure to some of the concepts in the book could potentially affect how you feel about it. Stick with it, read slowly, let it percolate.
I do think it is an important book for us all to read at some point. It’s a short book but best read slowly. There is a lot to take away from The Power of Now but the most basic message as you may have guessed is related to time. There is no time but Now. The past is but memories and the future is imagination, the only thing you need to concern yourself with is now. This is quite liberating if, like me, you often find yourself worrying about a future that doesn’t exist yet and a set of problems that may never exist.
The more time that passes since finishing it the more I realise about its implications for my life. I’m sure that no matter what you’re going through; good, bad, or meh, there’s something for you in this book that will help you. If you’ve already read this book I’d love to hear what you thought about it.