The last year has been a real struggle: Do I pull the plug on this blog or do I keep going? Alan’s post (about quitting toy photography) had me leaning toward calling it quits. I even went so far as to reach out to Alan and Matt and ask them what they thought of my idea. I see so many people in my life struggling with the pain and pressures of life. By closing the blog, I figured I’d release at least a few people from one more pressure. But I’ve come to my senses, and I want to let you know why. Because I think my decision might help others make their own choice.
First, I need to tell you I believe in synchronicity. I truly believe the universe is sending us the help we need if we will only pay attention. (At this point, if your mind isn’t open, feel free to move on.) This week, I had another clear example of these unseen forces working on my behalf.
As part of one of the workshops I’m currently running, I write three pages of free verse in a journal every morning. I write out all my pain, anger, hurt, dreams and joy. Once all the cruft is released, interesting ideas and connections emerge. It’s a great way to energize my morning, and this exercise gives my life focus. Part of the process is writing a personal mantra / affirmation that helps to defuse the inevitable negative self-talk. I was not a believer in affirmations until I started this process more than a year ago. Now I understand the power of words. By writing simple phrases that contradict my inner critic, I’ve been able to shift my inner narrative. It’s been a powerful experience. My current affirmation is: My creativity heals myself and others.
“I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your work. One gets to feel like a child again, playing with toys and making up stories while your writing brings a range of more adult emotions/stories from deep to playful”– dhjourneys (a comment on one of my recent posts)
“It’s this whole notion of performing in public for the scrutiny of other people, the pretending to be more important than you actually are, the false promise that a lot of these apps offer,” he said. “To be really successful, you have to be paying attention all the time, with people posting their lunches, baby pictures, what cute thing their dog just did. I find it incredibly superficial and tedious, so I pull back. I don’t want to participate.”-Greg Kucera, former gallery owner
The first quote once again reinforced that what I’m doing has real value even though it feels frivolous. The second quote is from a person I respect very much. And if someone who is a pillar of my local arts community thinks the current system is total BS, then my own feelings are validated (I’m not going to rehash our collective grievances, you know what they are). I also want to pull back and disengage. I often dream of picking up my toys and going into a corner and playing by myself. But that doesn’t feel right either. I choose to continue to play the game as best as I can and spread my own version of joy and healing. I’m sure there are more people like Mr. Holden (dhjourneys) out there.
A message to all the Alans in our community
Life is hard, but it will be a lot harder without your creativity. Humans have been creating since the dawn of time. We have left our markings on the sides of cave walls, on islands and in forests. Creating is what we do to connect with and express our joy at this thing called life. It’s no coincidence the items that bring me the most joy in life are made by other creatives: books, music and movies. Even a beautifully crafted, unique piece of clothing or jewelry, or a particularly beautifully prepared meal brings me joy! There is no greater calling in this world than creating something and sharing it with others.
Obviously, our current moment is particularly harsh on the creatives of the world. Platforms like Spotify and Instagram are built on the backs of creatives with very little of the profits trickling down. Capitalist societies value profit over human health and safety. Because I can’t change the system, I choose to take the long view. At some point, the companies who are the worst offenders will fall. They all do. Hubris is a powerful destroyer. And when they fall, we creatives will still be here.
I get it if toy photography isn’t your jam anymore. For many people, it’s a step on their creative journey. There are many ways to be creative. I’ve watched people move on to quilting, craft beer, wood carving, custom dioramas, custom toys, other photo projects and, of course, to raise their young children. Change and growth are a part of the human experience. Even if toy photography isn’t your jam anymore, I hope you will continue to make creativity a part of your life.
For me, creating is equivalent to joy. And therefore, I choose to keep going. I choose joy—the joy creating gives me and the joy I spread when I share my images on social media. Sure, my photos don’t resonate with everyone. But I bet yours will resonate with your own community of likeminded souls.
Life sucks. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do the soul-crushing work we’re asked to do. All I can do is encourage you to stay strong and not forget to feed your inner creative. Do your best to carve out a little white space around the edges to let the magic in. I understand this isn’t going to be easy. I struggle with that white space myself. It’s easier for me to rush from one obligation to the next. Family and work obligations combined with general busy work are handy because they also keep me from thinking
When I do slow down, the ideas bubble up. When I unplug from life, even a little bit, the energy returns. The real joy comes when I get out the toys and create images. This is my happy place. I live for these moments. And connecting with likeminded folks is the beautiful icing on this messy cake we call life.
The long view
So yes, the blog is here for the long haul. Why? Because I want to document this wonderful and, for me, special community. With every person who joins the team for as long as it serves them, they leave a unique mark. With each post, with each feature, with each technique share, we are documenting who and what we are. We are toy photographers who love to tell our stories. And they are beautiful stories.
I encourage you to go make something. And while you’re moving through your day, pay attention. The universe is trying to help you; you only need to listen.