Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Creative Spirit

The garden has a way of unleashing one's creative spirit. According to the Mirriam Webster dictionary, to create is to make or bring into existence something new. The creative spirit is that part of you that comes up with new ideas. You then apply these ideas toward creating something. We create things all day long - reports, dinner, a clean house - but the creative spirit goes beyond the mundane. When we use our creative side, we tap into an inner power that allows us to make something extraordinary.

When I think of the creative spirit, I think of the part of myself that sees things with fresh eyes. This side of me is not something that I can access easily all of the time. Have you ever sat down to write and couldn't think of an idea? Do you serve the same foods over and over again at every Thanksgiving meal? Have you ever had free time and just ended up running your chore list for the week? This is not your creative spirit at work. You creative spirit helps you to think outside of a box, to do different things, to DARE to do different things. For example, you open a dictionary, point to a word and decide to write about it. (I didn't do this today by the way.)
To get rid of writer's block we have exercises to get the creative juices flowing. We have recipe books to help us rethink our meal planning. We have books and magazines to help us plan our free time and get moving in a new direction.

For me, and I suspect for most other gardeners, stepping out into the garden achieves the same effect. Last year, after a weary winter of freezing and thawing then flooding here in NH, I stepped out in April to visit the trees I have pictured above. They are located only a few miles from my house, on a hill in an office park. I've passed them on the highway many times. Actually, I shouldn't say that I "stepped" out because I remember dragging myself out. I felt low and told myself that perhaps if I got moving I could change things around. As I approached the beautiful pink blooms, I parked the car. It was a Sunday and the only people around were the landscape crew. the only noise was their lawn mowers. I stepped up to the tree and snapped a picture. "Okay, this isn't so bad," I remember thinking.

Three trees in a row and how best to capture them? I only work with two lenses, which is sometimes a detriment. Usually those two serve me well because they are meant for small closeup flower work or portraits, the primary photos I take. But shooting trees is difficult. I wanted to photograph the way my eyes saw the scene and that was not really possible for me with my fixed macro lens or my other lens (which I think is 50-120 for anyone who cares, but don't hold me to that. I'm sitting in a car dealership and can't check. I also have so many numbers in my head that I have difficulty remembering things like lens length.) I wanted a wider panorama. Anyway, I did my best. The creative juices began to flow. I walked around the trees and under the trees. I probably would have climbed them if I had been able, but the landscape crew might have looked at me funny if I had done that anyway.

I went home feeling not totally satisfied that I had achieved greatness, but the blahs were leaving me. Later, I got on the computer to see the digital files I had shot. Then it hit me. I wanted to highlight the contrasts of the road, sky, grass and blossoms. I boosted the intensity of the colors and darkened the road. I wanted more texture to shake off the flat whiteness of winter. I added some boxes of texture. I wanted to shout "Spring!" And I think I did with this picture. I created something extraordinary. No, it's not extraordinary in a prize winning photo sort of way, but I expressed myself. I let the voice deep inside of me shout out. I brought something mundane outside of the box. It made me feel more alive and content.

So, this is the creative spirit. Whether it involves creating a piece of art, helping your orchids grow, or playing with your child on the playground. It is the part of you that speaks up and allows you to do something out of the ordinary. It allows you to see the world around you from a different dimension than where you started. with any luck, your vision will help others change a little too.

This year I hope to photograph the apple trees a few towns away while they are in bloom.

1 comment:

Nancy J. Bond said...

You captured the essence of this photo beautifully! Nice job.