Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

The enchanted life

Posted on May 25, 2014 by jimparedes

By Jim Paredes

As a photographer, I am always looking for subjects to shoot. They could be big or small wonders of nature, people, situations, buildings, an object, anything that can tell a story however short or long. My desire is to capture them from my point of view share them. In the process, I have learned to pay attention as much as I can to everything around me.

Even before taking up the camera, I had already made efforts to try to be observant. It is not that difficult since I have a natural curiosity for things and people. As an artist, I think this is important to have. I have made songs inspired by things someone has said, about the beauty of women, historic experiences I have been witness to, and the many waves of sadness and joys, dramatic or otherwise, that have touched the shores of my emotional life.

Being observant, or paying attention is the key to having access to enchantment and inspiration. And to one whose eyes are open, the world is overflowing with things of beauty and wonder to constantly crow about. I can get quite excited about what may seem ordinary to many people–leaves on the ground, sunsets, faces of regular people, shapes and textures of things, contrasts, the play of shadow and light on objects, the female form, landscapes, practically anything. I especially enjoy portraying ordinary things in new ways by capturing them with new angles or points of views as they interact with their surroundings.

The process of paying attention requires one to have the mind of a conspiracy theorist which rejects the usual explanations and ways of explaining and understanding something, and instead will find an angle that no one has thought of. It is a mind that likes to connect things in unpredictable wayds, to uncover or make new relationships or meanings between disparate objects, of previously unrelated events, of people and circumstances, and present new ways of looking and understanding them.
Always looking for a new story, or an old one but retelling it in a new way, the creative mind is always in search of the unique, and likes erasing the dots previously connected and reconnecting them for new configurations.

Try to play this game in your mind: imagine that everything that you encounter everyday shows up precisely to meet the appointment it has with you. Take a look at the meat or fish you are having for lunch. Imagine what it took to bring this precise food on the table. Who caught the fish, or killed the animal? Which market was it sold in? Imagine how exactly THIS particular meat ended up on your plate. Isn’t that mindboggling? When you try to imagine the history, circumstances and the possible implications to you of why something is there in front of you, it can leave you speechless.
Now apply this to other things, to the people you meet, the places and surroundings you see, the encounters you do not usually give any thought or attention to. Looking at things through the portal of wonder can make everything absolutely amazing that one can’t help but see ‘this and that’ as elements of a divinely inspired ‘plan’ or conspiracy.

Enchantment presumes a capability to have a fresh mind capable of dropping previously fixed set meanings of things, existing relationships and imagining new ways to perceive them.

The minds of poets, painters, musicians, artists of all kinds seem more attuned to this kind of looking at life. They know how to create worlds, and can easily make mountains out of molehills in a good way. They live for moments when they can take the magic wand of creativity and imbue the ordinary, the mundane, the normal with magical powers to surprise and delight their audiences.

Is this kind of perception only available to artists and the like? While it is common to them, I think anyone can develop it. You will need to learn three things to be able to do this.

Firstly, you must entertain your imagination. You must allow it to fly freely, to allow it to go anywhere without censoring. This is easier said than done. Often we do not allow ourselves to wander and entertain thoughts that are not socially approved or may not be morally acceptable. It goes without saying that you must be able to suspend judgments, conclusions and allow new ideas and ways of looking at things to take charge.

Secondly, you must develop a grateful heart. This is important because only the grateful can see blessings and gifts everywhere. If you are not capable of appreciating the small things, you may even miss out on the big things. Believe me, there is a lot of inspiration inside you and out there that are just everywhere for the taking.

Thirdly, you must make it a discipline. Yes, you must make the first two rules a practice until it becomes second nature to you. The capacity to be enchanted by everything is a wonderful gift that will bring you great opportunities to be creative and whole!

Take note that there is a lightness component to all of this. By this I mean one must be able to not take oneself too seriously. There will be times when you will be more creative than at other times. For the moments when you are not inspired, relax and just accept it. Shrug it off. Try not to be too judgmental towards yourself.

To be enchanted is to be able to suspend disbelief. It means that we must entertain the thought that anything is possible. Without this, we will not be able to detect the ‘impossible’ even if it does happen. Notice how the saddest people on earth are also the hardest to please? They are also very serious people. They are stuck in a world of expectations, meanings they can’t suspend or drop for the sake of entertaining other possibilities.

I leave you with a quote from German essayist Hugo Von Hofmannsthal. He says, “Reality lies in the greatest enchantment you have ever experienced.” I truly believe this. Reality can be the greatest ‘escape’ you can ever have if you are capable of inspired living.

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