A bold infrared of cascading white grass, a black sky, and a stark oak.

It has been 1.5 years since Day One, my last creative post here or anywhere else. I was sure that the awful turn for American society, culture, and politics created by republican control of all three branches of U.S. government (not that it’d be any better with just trump alone) would spur my output, especially with politically themed works. I quickly found that the fuel to that fire had barely given light, and was easily snuffed by numerous personal hardships that soon followed.

Faced with the loss of my main job, countless failures in trying to switch my career path (which I’m still struggling with as of this post), gradually learning that a startup I freelanced for (and financially relied upon) was grossly immoral and unethical, quitting that position with nothing to fall back on, losing friends I cared for by surprise, losing faith in the area I live in, and losing hope in general, I’m not surprised that using art for protesting and activism took a back seat. Unfortunately, the same problems made me nearly leave all of my creative expression abandoned.

There is no sorrow like straying from your passion, and no sense of emptiness like falling deaf to the song of your calling. I’m fortunate to have a loving and supportive family and a few friends to turn to, because the despair from so much lasting difficulty was overpowering. Combined with once-daily writing reduced to once or twice every fourth month and photography that nearly disappeared altogether, that same despair grew crushing. I had a collection of exposed film rolls that needed to be developed, one of which housed this shot. I didn’t realize that the oldest shots they contained was taken on June 2016. It’s a miracle that they all came out intact.

And that’s where this shot comes in, terribly underexposed and blurred by the wind. Taken on its own in October, 2017, and finally developed in April, 2018, when the roll was finished and long-expired. Despite its flaws – the botched exposure, blurred capture, and degradation caused by expiration – a scene more imaginative and striking than I could’ve hoped for was produced. Like the seeming moonlight that illuminates the hills and reveals the forest king’s protection, my creativity was there to guide me at my most wayward, most uncertain, most defeated. I’d prefer to not re-learn this same lesson from Spark of Life, but I find comfort in finding peace once more though my work, despite far worse circumstances than in 2014.

If you have a creative hobby or passion, then don’t give it up, even for a moment. Whether you’re a virtuoso musician, hobbyist painter, or simple artisan, don’t give it up. That creative gift is a part of you, and your whole, undiminished self is a gift to all.

Mamiya RB67
Mamiya 50mm f/4.5 C
Rollei Infrared – ISO 400 – 6×7