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Make Art Every Damn Day


It's day 30 of my photo project, which means if I'm following the advice of life hacks everywhere, I've successfully created a new habit. When I decided to take a photo every day for a year, I initially just wanted to practice taking photos. Photography is one of my hobbies, and it's something I've always wanted to get better at, but I always push it aside for other things, like writing, making money to feed myself, and practicing yoga. Seldom do I have a lazy Saturday afternoon when I can just walk around and take photos. So I started the project thinking that taking a photo every day would be an easy, small way to work on my skills.

So now, every day a new prompt is emailed to me, and I do my best to capture the given word or phrase in a photo. When I got today's prompt—commitment—I wasn't sure how to capture it. There are so many things I'm committed to right now that I couldn't pick just one to photograph. And as I thought about the word commitment, and the commitment I made to taking a photograph every day, I started thinking about all the other things I'm committing to by doing so.

I'm committing to slowing down. I've chosen the word "slow" as my theme for the year. Things seem to be moving increasingly fast, and often it leaves me feeling frazzled. I've noticed that sometimes I don't taste my food. I don't spend whole afternoons reading a good book anymore. I don't connect with the world around me the way I used to. Some of this is the product of the fast-paced world we are living in, but some of this is my inability to prioritize. Either way, I'm not always present for my life. And for a Buddha-loving yogi, that's just not okay. Taking photographs forces me to stop and to look around.

Because of that, I'm committing to looking. Really looking. I'm no longer blindly going through my days, rushing from one place to the next. Well, that's not true. I still mostly do that. But at least a few times a day I remember that I need to take a photo. In those brief moments, when I'm looking for my picture, I'm looking at everything. And maybe for the first time that day, really seeing.

I'm committing to trusting. Some days I get anxious about the prompt. I read my email and think, "How am I supposed to take a picture of that?" The day goes on and still, I've found nothing. Then, in some random moment, like walking out of work on a snowy afternoon, a red leaf screams at me from a blanket of white snow. And there it is, my photo for the day. What I need always turns up. This is true in my photo project, and it's true in my life.

I'm committing to noticing what's beautiful every day. Seriously. There is so much beauty here.

I'm committing to not trying to be perfect. Many of my photos will suck. Many aren't worthy of being shared. Some days I will be tired and not that into it. On others I will be lazy. This is okay. It's a process. I'm not a professional photographer, and lots of my photos show it. They wouldn't be considered art by most standards, but really, I get to define what art is. And in my definition, art has nothing to do with what is created and everything to do with the process of creation.

I'm committing to being vulnerable. In sharing my photos on Instagram, and sometimes on Facebook, I hold myself accountable for following through with the project. But I also share parts of my day, and therefore parts of me. Now everyone can see beyond the curated life I usually present. Most days there isn't anything more exciting to take photos of than my food, my feet, and my cat. In a couple of weeks I get to take some photos in Costa Rica. That will be exciting. But then I will go back to my food, my feet, my cat. Maybe it's not as exhilarating as other people's lives. But it's mine, and I like my cat and my simple, beautiful life.

I'm committing to my writing. Surprisingly, I have fun coming up with hashtags. Maybe hashtags will be over by the end of the year (or maybe they already are—I need to ask the young people), but for now, they give me a new way to interact with and play with my first love—words.

No really, I'm committing to my writing. At about this time last year I was stuck in my writing. I had nothing to say, and no motivation. I started painting and making other kinds of art instead. Doing so opened my creative channels back up, and before long, I was typing away at the keyboard again. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. When I'm creating, I tend to keep creating.

So in the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, "ONWARD," to 335 more days, to more photos of my cat, and to creativity, being present, and making art—every damn day.

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