A Sunset, An Oatmeal, Graciela Iturbide and Me

 

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It was 4.52pm when I got back from purchasing a handful of things from the grocery story – a cheery yellow pear, two bright lemons, a packet of cacao nibs, cardamom, garbanzo beans and a jar of acai (pronounced “a-sigh-eeee”) among a couple of other delightful items.

It was 4.57pm and I kept shifting around in my chair while fiddling with loose strands of hair as I struggled to write an essay about Graciela Iturbide and her endeavours as a photographer. Yes, the essays assigned to us at language school do get a little fancy at times.

Now who is this Graciela girl that I speak of? Graciela Iturbide was born in Mexico in 1942, the eldest of thirteen children. She was exposed to photography early on in life. Her father took pictures of her and her siblings and she got her first camera when she was 11 years old. When she was a child, her father put all the photographs in a box and she said “it was a great treat to go to the box and look at these photos, these memories.” She then married the architect Manuel Rocha Díaz in 1962 and had three children over the next eight years. Iturbide’s six-year-old daughter, Claudia, died in 1970; after this death she turned to photography. She studied at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where she met her mentor, the teacher, cinematographer and photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo. She travelled with Bravo and learned that “there is always time for the pictures you want.”

That last sentence struck me. “There is always time for the pictures you want…”

I tried to write my essay, I really did, but I just couldn’t write anything else but a “Sie kommt mir vor, als eine faszinierende Frau…” You know how some things stay a little ‘more etched’ in Your mind in other things? Bravo’s statement was, for me, one of these ‘some things’… a ghostly apparition – elusive and illusive.

I knew that forcing myself to sit on the table with my ocean blue fountain pen in my right hand would do nothing but make me feel infinitely bothered by the incessant clawing of the statement in my mind. So I got up, walked the three metres to my kitchen and prepared myself an acai-oatmeal bowl (yes, that’s why the oatmeal looks purple!) before I walked out onto the balcony where I had a priceless view of the setting sun. We had surprisingly ‘high’ temperatures that evening – about 7°C – and I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I were to have stayed indoors and by doing so, missed a moment of nature’s gift of warmth.

I took a seat on the little picnic set-up I had on the balcony and once I manage to gain a sense of peace with with my surrounding, I began to think. I began to think about the big message that Bravo’s simple statement brought with it:

“If something means ANYthing to You, You WILL make time for it. You WILL make it happen.”

“I wish I had time to <insert activity here>,” is somewhat a refrain among those who lament the state of things, myself included. Whether it’s work, school or family, life has a habit of getting in the way, making valuable time for what our heart wants to do a fleeting concept.

I began feeling guilty about all the Skype calls, meals, get-togethers or even letter-writing that I missed because I simply didn’t have time, or so I thought. I find the concept Bravo brought up to be a very confusing one. All those moments I thought didn’t have time, I really couldn’t find a way to swerve around them or fit them better into my schedule. Was I really not trying hard enough? Did I not want them… enough??

No action is meaningless, no moment is insignificant. One cannot fathom the impact one has upon the rest of the universe; though we may not be able to see or understand all of the ripples, we know that they are there. As we embrace the idea that we matter, and that we are more than matter, we become aware that our ability to choose allows us to steer a path through the universe in the direction we see fit.In every moment, regardless of what we choose, we both are and are part of a boundless, infinite system of life and love that is growing in every moment in the direction of the highest harmony of All That Is Now. – Adam Lanka

I took an appraisal of my daily routine. How much of everything I do each day is absolutely necessary? What can I take out that won’t derail life? We all have creature comforts, those pastimes that we often get lost in. For me, it’s time in the kitchen or with my books, and I’ve spent a lot of time there. They’re not bad things to busy myself with… right?

I really do need to spend a little more time planning my days such that I’d feel more accomplished as I cover myself with my blanket at night. A little more time… We really do need time for everything. Time is so so precious, may I learn to waste it a little more wisely. May we all do.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. – Anthony G. Oettinger

 

Birds were chirping and I could see little bits of green peeking out from the soil I had in my balcony’s ‘little plantation area’. Despite the omnipresence of cool colour tones, I just knew that spring wasn’t very far away anymore. I’ve missed the warmth so much. Winter has been quite tough on my sensitive, prone-to-dryness skin and my body clock, but truly, if we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes get a taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcomed by us all.

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Alone is a powerful feeling, a fiery crucible that defines and shapes many a being’s motivations and experiences within the universe of the now. I believe in the Alone. Alone lets us sit in silence and solitude, and in doing so we can finally hear our thoughts and feel our emotions. For some, this is a welcome opportunity. For others, it creates fear of what might surface. Please know that it really is okay to allow the feelings to surface or the thoughts to run through our minds. It’s important to know who we are and honour these significant parts of ourselves.

 

Alone makes me feel great in my own skin, makes me appreciate every inch I occupy on this planet we share, but most of all, Alone makes me want to slow down my pace and pursue who I am as a unique individual… so that I become not a copy of anyone else, but a better version of who I was yesterday.

There’s one last thing I’d like to leave You with.

Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart. – John Ortberg

Upon the journey of life, may You travel with utmost grace, love, and gratitude in Your hearts.

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