Offering The Creative Collective To Artists, Writers, and Creatives

the-creative-collective-coverYesterday, out of a strong desire to create a “safe space” for creatives to share ideas, prompts, strategies, and inspirations, I created a new Facebook group called The Creative Collective.

Here, writers, artists, and all creatives now have the opportunity to share and be inspired to rediscover and strengthen their creativity. Nothing is being sold or pitched here; this is purely for imagination stimulation.

If you would like to join us on Facebook (it’s free and open to the public), go HERE.

14 Hours In Light: Part 4. The Rising Sun, The Falling Moon, and The Epiphany

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photos by rus vanwestervelt. taken 30 july 2015

Part 4. The Rising Sun, The Falling Moon, and The Epiphany

These seven minutes I spend on the summit of Big Bald Mountain, waiting for the sun’s first sliver to slip over the eastern mountains beyond Little Bald are, perhaps, the most powerful of my life.

Within the first minute of standing between the falling moon and the rising sun, my phone loses all power. Fear returns as quickly as it dissipates, whisked away by the strong winds as if not allowed at 5,516 feet high. I know I am vulnerable here, surrounded by tall grasses and steep drops that give me virtually no warning if a black bear – or any creature for that matter (except the American Redstart warbler, perhaps) – were to charge me. All of the What-Ifs, as well, linger in my mind (if but for a passing moment), as I still need to descend some 1,300 feet, back through the brush, when I leave. I have no way of contacting anybody. Anywhere. Any way.

I am alone with the elements, caught here between the moon and the sun-to-rise.

Or perhaps, instead of being alone, I am all-one, a part of something greater. Instead of seeing myself apart from this natural world, I see myself a part of it all.

I am surprised at the comfort in this, the absolute release and relief of shedding these chains, of finding myself in the middle between day and night, light and dark, faith and fear, and enveloping myself in complete liberation by the nurturing elements of the earth and the air.

I stare at the very northeast tip of the mountain beyond Little Bald where the sun will first rise. I can feel the energy bursting already from that pinpoint, that precise place where night will become day. The heavy moon behind me bears the weight of a long night’s journey. It is tired and ready to surrender the early morning, if but for a short 14 hours and 2 minutes, to light.

I, too, surrender. I exhale and give myself to the wind, the earth, the sky. I am one with the elements.

And then I feel it. At first, it is a negligible push and pull, an almost indiscernible, autonomous and rhythmic sway that defies the strong winds that whip around me. The pulse, though, grows stronger as I stand there, an earthly beat by two heavenly chambers that carry the energy of all things to and fro, back and forth, around and around.

I am between these two chambers that volley life-energy ceaselessly. And for those final moments leading up to the defining second where the sun rises, I embody dark and light and everything in between. I am the conduit for love, for life, for existence.

The winds steal away my tears as fast as they appear, but that seems right that they should fall elsewhere on the mountains around me. As I am being baptized by the earth and by the heavens, my tears become a part of the ritual, returning to the earth drops of life manifested by such beauty, such energy.

DSC_8427Unblinking, I watch night surrender to day, The sun rises as the moon sighs, and I am filled fully with the energy of both.

In the name of Walt Whitman, I sound my barbaric YAWP from this rooftop of the world and hear the single syllable echo among the ridges that now bathe brightly in early morning hues of yellow and orange.

A single note, a single man, resonating boundless life and love and energy.

I have never felt so alive in my life, and I want to run from this mountain top and tell the world – I want to tell you – that what is in me is in every one of us. We possess the same life, love, and energy that flows incessantly, reverently, across lands, through waters, and among skies.

We are the earth. The water. The sky. We are all one, a part of the ceaseless energy that makes this universe – and each of us – the most beautiful creation imaginable.

I drop my pack and walk the perimeter of the summit, setting my own compass and course to carry me home: fearless, faithful, and fulfilled.

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Next… Part 5. The Energy Within

Read Part 3. The Summit and The Elements
Read Part 2. The Ascent and The Fear of Wildlife
Read Part 1. The Decision and The Approach


 

During the last week of July, we were fortunate enough to join my sister and her family at their mountain cabin in western North Carolina. It was the first time that our family had been together in six years, and the first time I had seen my sister since she lost her left leg in her battle with osteosarcoma.

In the pre-dawn hours of July 30, I wrestled with the decision to hike to the summit of Big Bald Mountain along the Appalachian Trail and see the sun rise over the Great Smoky Mountains along the North Carolina-Tennessee border. I have selected 16 photos from that day, spanning a 14-hour period of light, where I remained focused on the energy of the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon. Mingling among these 16 pictures are six short passages that chronicle my thoughts during that day. This is the fourth of those six passages in my series titled, “14 Hours In Light.”

What Should Go Viral

In the last few days, our lives have been inundated with “The Dress” and whether we see the colors white and gold or blue and black.

In my Saturday afternoon travels, I realized that the discussion had reached my local Royal Farms store, my local public library, and my local gym — all in a matter of hours. Everyone seemed infatuated with what colors they saw when they looked at an image of a dress.

Then came the scientific and psychological posts, explaining how and why we saw two different sets of colors. This was quickly followed by the sarcastic and hateful memes and messages that mocked the fascination with The Dress and its colors.

While some individuals expressed their gratitude for this viral image sparking relationships and encouraging dialogue, others shared outrage that something so benign could become so important in a time when there are so many other pressing matters that are not being talked about.

I posted my own little rant on Facebook about The Dress. Here’s what I wrote:

Went to Royal Farms for coffee and the employees, locked in a circuitous debate, asked my opinion about The Dress.

Went to the Public Library and was hit with a display of books on optical illusions, and in the center was an 8×10 photo of The Dress. I slowed down just enough to take in the display, and two people asked me: What colors do you see?

Went to the gym and saw several trainers gathering around an iPad with an image of The Dress. They took turns staring at it, tilting the iPad this way and that. They argued “Blue Black!” and “White Gold!” as we pushed our pedals and tripped our way along treadmills.

My God, if I could just develop half the hype about people embracing love and getting along. It would be nice to see at the Royal Farms, at the Public Library, at the Gym. Instead of saying, “Which colors do you see?” we would be asking, “Do you realize how wonderful you are?”

Then I thought, maybe I am doing little to help the issue I am complaining about. Am I not just another ranter who is being critical without offering a real solution?

So, I made these three images using some original photos. If you like one, steal it and share it with a friend and read it out loud to them. Let them know they are loved, they are wonderful, and they are beautiful. It doesn’t take much to share a kind word with someone, but it can mean so much for a person to hear it.

These are the things that should go viral: Kindness, Love, Beauty. Share that and talk about it. Let that permeate our lives wherever we go.

Love to you all, and I mean that.

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Three Little Reasons To Write in 2015

IMG_24801. Writing provides discovery, clarity, cleansing, understanding, epiphany, courage, belief, hope, and love — all for yourself as well as for others.

2. Writing keeps you focused on what is most important for you; it’s a natural journey that keeps you moving, keeps you going, keeps you clarifying and refining that journey. When we write, we move.

3. Writing stimulates your creativity, energy, desire, will, and motivation. It reminds you of the courage and energy residing within you, at all times, and at the ready for you to tap, use, and apply.

We write to change our own world before we can change the world around us.

So write for yourself, and see the immediate manifestation of these three little reasons.