I’d never thought of cats as a domestic friend to have in my home. Until one day a cat came into my home and decided to stay.
Creativity is as mysterious as the cat slipping in and out of the shadows. One moment it’s with you, the next it’s gone, then it’ll loom up out of the shadows again. We often grasp at it, and with that, chase it back into the darkness.
But as time passes, and we practice the art of seeing, of silence behind the camera’s lens, those vibrant moments of creative flow become longer, more powerful, and give us a clearer vision to create art.
A photographer chases the shadows and the sun, hoping that both will play the game. As the sun moves, the shadows lengthen, and the shreds and shards of light sharpen, morph, soften, and fade into evening dimness. We have time, but just as the cat slips away into the evening shadows, we keep up the chase for a last shot. Either for good or bad, the day must end.
A photographer must live in two worlds. The world of bread and butter and a roof over our heads. The world of creativity. There is a demand that we work on commercial activities to buy our bread and lenses. But to never forget the root cause of our drive, the need to create.
Not to forget is sometimes harder than we think. Creative people become so embroiled in their activities, that sometimes, it’s as if those artistic pursuits are all that matters.
The balance of life, like night and day, must be observed. When we know that night will come and the day will follow, then we can relax in our work. To toil for bread at one time, and to let the flow of our creative impulse take us where it will, an art itself; the art to live in balanced harmony.
The impulse to create drives us to experiment, to follow new paths, to take photos in colour, then in black and white, to chop and change, street photography, but then off to the countryside to look at the trees and grass, and in the end — before we’ve had time to study what we’ve been doing — we feel like a rag doll that’s been dragged around the streets by a little girl on an adventure.
I sometimes feel as if I’ve wasted my time.
Snapping shots, writing down scraps of thought, reading books that lead to interesting ideas, but when I stop, and sit, like my cat does, and think about what I’ve done and how it looks, I know that I have been living in the moment where the flow is.
The waters of life took me along trickling brooks that led to pools of thought, then, somehow I slipped into a current and found myself alone in the sea of formidable thoughts beyond my realm. The challenge to think beyond yesterday, to swim harder and with zest, to allow the current to take me, and to know that it’ll take me somewhere new. To be creative.
Cats are hard to figure out. So, I gave up trying years ago. When I let my cat be what it is, then I could see how its personality changes. One day it sleeps all day as if recharging itself. The next, it’ll be all over the apartment climbing on books, hooking pennies and euros out of my coat pocket, throwing them on the floor to play with. Then it’ll hide the coin under a carpet for later — much later, like 3 a.m. — it’ll pull it back out, and wake me up with its gleeful playing.
A cat doesn’t care what time of day it is, if there’s fun to have, then it’ll get on with it and play. There’s a lot of impulsive action driving a cat’s creative life. There’s a lot of meaning to a cat’s life.
So long as the shadows and the sun play their game, I’ll follow their flow, intertwined in the eternal game of the cat, of silently sitting and looking, then playing and hiding coins.
Creative impulse drives us to capture the passing light, thoughts that demand the pen and paper, to revel in colours, or see the world in black and white tones. Sometimes to sit like the cat and contemplate, sometimes chase the sun and shadows like a gleeful child with a rag doll in tow.