After the years of uncertainty and isolation we have had, sometimes it feels like what we need, as much as food, warmth, water and love, is hope.
In November and December, I had a flurry on in-person events: giving talks at libraries, taking part in an “Open Studios” event with my photography, and meeting with readers in book groups. It was such a wonderful feeling to be with people, even if masks were needed, talking about photography, books, and wider creative ideas.
And even though more Covid uncertainty is again upon us, I am holding out hope that creative encounters can still go ahead in some way in the new year. If not immediately in the coming weeks, there will be a time, perhaps in Spring, when things improve again. That sense of connection and chances to share creative ideas are so important. I have to hold on to hope that we’ll have the opportunity to do it again.
A friend introduced me to the music of the Bengsons. Abigail and Sean are a mom-and-pop group from Louisville, Kentucky. They started recording songs in their parent’s basement during covid, despite the fact that they were more used to being up on stage under bright lights with a large crowd. They have this remarkable song, called “Hope Comes.” They talk about hope being an action, not a feeling. I really recommend watching it (sound on). The lead singer has a voice like a classic gospel singer, and the words are wonderful.
Elizabeth Gilbert, the internationally bestselling author who crosses genres, has a book about writing called Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. There are so many profound thoughts in the slim volume: about creativity, about maintaining a sense of wonder about the world, and how to maintain a fierce belief in yourself, even in the face of failure. I come back to it again and again.
Another writer’s book that touches on faith and hope is the classic The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The book is out of print at the moment, but you can easily find a second-hand copy on Abe Books or someplace similar. That book is a series of writing exercises, also with a strong thread about hope and belief. One thing that stands out is the author’s belief that coincidences are a special moment: a “synchronicity”; they are proof that creativity runs through the universe, and that our hopes and actions matter. She continues with the quote from Goethe:
Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.
In these dark times – literally, and figuratively – many people and cultures reach out for the light. It is the time of year when there are many different festivals of light; there is Chanukkah, Diwali, and many others that use the lighting of a candle as a powerful act of faith. But also, when it feels like politics or the pandemic or other things are darkening our skies, just remember: Hope is an action, and has power in it.
The skies will clear. I look up and see the patterns of the sun on the clouds in the winter sunset. It sparks some instinct in me, and sets off my creativity all over again
I hope you and your loved ones kindle a sense of hope this festive season, and take actions that are meaningful and powerful for you.
With best wishes,
PS. If you missed it, I launched my e-shop website this month, and there is still time to order a print or a framed photograph before the end of December (UK delivery). Please see https://abkyazze.co.uk/shop/ for more details. Also, Into the Mouth of the Lion is on discount for a limited time! Check it out.