Inspiration in the Inner Silence

Today turned into a lazy unproductive day. Apparently between my mind and body I needed to shut down for more than the standard 7 hours. I awoke at 10am with a serious headache, wishing I had at least had the corresponding fun last night to warrant such discomfort but that wasn’t the case. I got up, fed my room mate’s cat, grabbed a few Advil and went back to bed. Fast forward to 5:06pm after an undisturbed sleep with a few vivid sections of odd dreams I was awake, anew and wondering what the hell I’ve been doing to render me so exhausted.

I have a way of chastising myself when a day is “wasted”, which is also part of the reason I have such a problem going into a job only to warm a chair to acquire a paycheque. I need to be productive and to be honest am counting the days to which I can be out doing what it is I’m supposed to be doing. The denial of that is chipping away at my soul constantly. A friend of mine shared this poem by Charles Bukowski that totally nailed my feelings of as late. Dealing with the day to day “swarm of trivialities” in this temporary existence I’m living in is in short, the equivalent to inviting a vampire to drain me dry of all my life force. Obviously I’m not naive to the fact that no matter what I’m doing in life there will be things that drive me bonkers but when they are related to a more self chosen path, they always seem less of a burden, smaller demons I guess.

This all said, I sit here inspired. I wrangled myself together, have enjoyed a cherished hot coffee and long hot shower, (where I find myself looking inward a lot). I know I have a lot of preparation to do for my next adventure and while I suffer the trivialities of this common existence I also realize that the time will move quickly in comparison to what needs to be done. So with that I’ll get to doing some of the small things I can accomplish tonight. More research on places to go to, things to see and shoot, stops I will make when I’m free of this temporary refuelling stop.

It’s just a matter of time before I’m back on the road and there is a possibility (due to a potential opportunity that I will touch back on later of it comes together) that I may be released of this pit stop sooner than later.

Keep moving forward friends,
W

Setting Goals and Dates

Based on my current situation and employment and my need to get away from both I have set goals, and dates for my exit from “normalcy” once again. You see, I’ve taken two extended road trips for my photography and for my sanity. Both were about four months long and massive learning experiences that resulted in a form of wanderlust I can not shake. I need to be outdoors, I need to be traveling, shooting….constantly. I need to be using my camera daily so that it again feels like the natural appendage it has in the past. I can’t do that from this cubicle.

The only reason I haven’t left yet is financial debt. …okay and a little bit of fear, fear that I’m delusional and walking away from a “job” that I need to survive. But I’m better than this, and I will succeed. Once out of debt I feel I can live extremely minimally, a sacrifice I’m willing to make for my art while I build it into an actual living. My exit date is July 31, 2015. It’s do or die time. I need my version of a traveling creative life much like Trey Ratcliff or Peter Lik. Sure, I know I have lots of room to grow and improve and I know that the road to that kind of success is long and hard but I also have ideas, determination and the simple stone cold fact within my very being that, I can’t come back to this life. It’s not that it’s horrible, I’ve been blessed and I do not take my current situation for granted. It simply is not me.

So for the next 17 months it’s all about paying off debt, saving and prep work for the next trip. Work that needs to be done to launch myself into the next chapter head first. The next chapter that has to stick. So hopefully as they say, third time is a charm. See you on the other side.

Burning Man 2013

My second pilgrimage to Black Rock City is in the books. It was even more amazing than the first. I knew what to expect this time, I knew more “what it was about”. Having a little more insight really helped me open my heart to it and taught me to enjoy the moments I found myself in. This year I simply found myself being myself at Burning Man. Last year I felt pressured to deliver the message home, to chase down all the photographs I could yet somehow knowing that relaying the messages and experience of this event is neither my responsibility or even possible. One must go to Burning Man to even begin to know what it’s like.

Although the art and even the people can be captured and documented the energy, the beauty and love has to be experienced first hand. It is truly inexplicable.

I had a pleasant surprise pop up on my Google + with the announcement of a photo walk hosted by two photographers, one who has been a great inspiration to me over the past few years. Trey Ratcliff (www.stuckincustoms.com) and Cliff Baise who is amazing as well. Both were great hosts and Cliff even had his son dressed in a “very convincing” alien suit for the walk. I lost the group while doing my own thing at the Man but had a great time regardless. I’m feel blessed that I was able to participate. … and don’t worry, my photos are coming soon.

The small camp I was apart of this year consisted of some friends from last year’s huge undertaking. Our contribution to the city was a small “store” in a yurt that should have been condemned as we didn’t have enough of the proper tape to put it together properly. Inside our “store” we gifted items that many people forget to pack or run out of and the response was overwhelming. So much love comes back to you on the playa when you truly participate.

This was also the second year for my Portrait Cart. My roughly constructed bike cart that allows me to connect with people and take their “Burner Portraits“. It’s my gift back to the community and the response was even more well received than last year. I can wait to get to editing them and uploading them so all my new friends can download them.

So watch back here for more photos as I get going on editing, but first, I have to clean ALL THE THINGS, including my cameras.

 

Poker Road Trip in Germany

The List of Best Traveled German Roads

Road trips are all about the journey and not the destination. You will commonly hear this phrase from people that prefer to drive miles rather than ride the train or on an airplane. They look forward to the adventure and experience that they will gain from each road trip and not care about how fast they get to their destination. Most athletes are fond of road trips because this is their chance to unwind and relax after each competition. A perfect example of this is former hockey pro Greg Mueller, who started getting into poker when his team had road trips in Germany. This Vancouver-based athlete said that “poker is a game that allows him to exercise the same competitive instincts he utilized as a pro athlete.” His training with the German ice hockey team paid off because he was able to switch from ice hockey to professional poker smoothly. Mueller is currently one of the top poker players in Canada having won more than a million dollars in live tournaments.

GermanyMany Canadians and Germans idolize Mueller because of his impressive skills and competitiveness. It will come as no surprise if you see someone spend hours on his/her computer playing at partypoker or drive all the way to Niagara Falls just to play poker at Casino Niagara. The poker fever has finally come to Canada and Mueller fans even travel to Germany to relive the road trip days of their idol. Playing poker at the back of their car or during a pit stop combined with wonderful scenery is a perfect combination. If you’re planning to do a road trip poker in Germany, then check out our list of the best traveled roads in this beautiful European country.

Castle Road

Traveling from Mannheim to Prague along the Castle Road can take you back in time because of the magnificent castles and majestic palaces that you will encounter during your trip. The scenic road spans more than 625 miles so make sure that you get some rest in a nice castle hotel like the Castle Hotel Colmberg in Bavaria.

Fairy Tale Road

After getting a glimpse of Germany’s early years, you can now enter the magical world of the Brothers Grimm by driving along the Fairy Tale Road. The Brothers Grimm took inspiration from some of the landscapes and towns in this area so don’t be surprised if you see landmarks that look like the castle at Sleeping Beauty, the tower at Rapunzel, and the forest at Little Riding Hood.

Romantic Road

If you are going on a road trip with your special someone, then make sure to pass by the Romantic Road. This scenic route spans from Franconia to the base of the German Alps. You can park your car and enjoy the amazing views of the Bavarian countryside where you can see hidden monasteries, wooden houses, lovely towns, and don’t forget to stay in one of the most romantic hotels in this area.

Burning Man 2012 – My “Virgin” Year

Where does one start when trying to relay the Burning Man experience. One assumes while writing that the reader has not been to “That Thing In The Desert” so where do you start? I’ll start at the beginning. Hell, lets start a little before that since this piece isn’t just about a trip to the desert, it’s also about a personal journey that took one hell of a pit stop this past Labor Day weekend.

You see, in case you haven’t gathered by now. I’m a little different. I’ve gone about life in the unexpected fashion so far. Where my friends have zigged, I have zagged. At times I’ve felt like a vampire who witnesses the coming and goings of friends while somehow remaining immortal.  I don’t mean this in a life and death sense, strictly in the “phases of  life” sense, …well the conventional phases of life that is. I’ve literally floated along watching waves upon waves of friends find that perfect partner, get married, settle down, and join the masses of proud parents. Nestled comfortably in their 9-5, tic toc, 2 weeks vacation, Christmas in the hometown with family, back to the nest and see you next year kinds of lives. Fair enough if that works for you, for me, it’s slow death.

I’m currently working in a 9-5 existence and it’s draining my soul like the above mentioned vampire. That said, it’s allowed me do something this year that would of most likely been filed under the “cannot afford it” section and forgotten for another year had I not landed this job in November of last. My first Burning Man experience. I was on top of my submission to the lottery for a ticket, I ordered one and waited. Then I got that email, telling me one ticket was coming my way. From that point on, like so many others I searched out, consumed and absorbed as much about the Burning Man culture as I could. I wanted to be prepared and I wasn’t going to be a tourist. I found the regional group here in Alberta. I helped out with the website for the local burn here (although wasn’t able to go), and met some great people in the process. I sent messages to active people on the Burning Man forums (eplaya) asking stupid questions, I watched Youtube videos and documentaries, I became obsessed and drawn to Temple, like a moth to a flame (pardon the pun/irony).

In my effort to NOT be a tourist I formulated an idea to build a tow-able cart for behind my bike that would hold my photo gear and advertise “Burner Portraits“, my gift to fellow burners. An idea I then bounced off of a few burners to see if it was “ok”. Thank you Zoltan, Savannah and Halcyon for the guidance and support. Through the summer and closer to the event I got a few preliminary things together. Then a guy I had paid a deposit to (for help with my initial cart because I had not the tools nor the space to build the main box), had vanished with my money leaving me scrambling over the last few weeks to get my ducks back in a row. Just as I brushed that off as a minor setback I noticed my vehicle was making a strange noise in the engine compartment. I took it in and saving the long version of the story ended up getting the timing chain replaced.  Less than a month to the burn and a co-worker mentioned that her friends passport expired. Alarm bells went off and sure enough, upon inspection, so had mine. While amidst hemorrhaging money I rushed down and got my renewal application in. Then, no sooner was that done and we got hit with golf ball sized hail here in Calgary causing severe body damage to my truck and taking out my windshield. With all these little setbacks adding up both emotionally and financially I was stressed to the point where I thought my first burn wasn’t meant to happen this year. I seriously considered selling my ticket. Then within a rare moment of clarity I said to myself, “you were one of the lucky ones that won a ticket in this crazy messed up lottery this year, you’re fucking GOING to Burning Man”.

A few days later and a week early my new passport arrived, the mail lady even signed for it and left it in the mailbox with a note saying she “suspected I really needed this”. Other wise I would have been taking time off work to get downtown during the day to pick it up. The insurance company came through and allowed me to get the windshield of my truck fixed, leaving the body damage until I get back. With the help of Zoltan and my good friend Iain we got the main portion of the photo cart ready. The week before leaving I spent a few evenings figuring out how to attach the wheels and making it look how I wanted and then found myself a used $40 bike. The cards I had designed to hand out with a web URL so people could find their photos after we all returned to our default worlds arrived in the mail. A slow day at work allowed me time to set up the URL and temporary web page. I decided it might be easier to meet new people if I joined a theme camp so after looking into a few I decided on the one that touted an 11 story penis made of scaffolding as their camp landmark, figuring guys and gals with that type of sense of humor would be right up my alley. Things were once again coming together.

I packed everything up, found a couple funky hats for cheap, got my camera gear ready and bought some supplies here, the rest would be purchased on my way to Black Rock City. With literally hours to spare, I was ready. I was going to Burning Man.

Just like any of my other road trips, as soon as I hit the open road I was at peace. The habit of watching for photo ops in every pixel of my peripheral vision came back, and my soul felt at home. Three days of driving, a stop to say hello to Dennis and Frances at the Dog Bark Park in Idaho (whom I met years previous) and soon I was rolling into Sparks Nevada to pick up the last of my supplies. After stocking up I headed North up the 445 towards Pyramid Lake, started seeing burner cars everywhere and feeling that rush of anticipation and excitement. It was Sunday afternoon, I was mere hours from Burning Man.

The journey into the gate wasn’t as long as I thought but it was dark and the wind and dust had picked up. Lanes of cars loaded with bikes and supplies, RVs, Rental trucks and minivans all moving slowly in the windy dusty night. This is where, although feeling excited that I was about to become part of something that was so much bigger than myself (or even a group of friends) that I was in fact alone. Most likely because I was.

Because of the wind and dust I wasn’t asked to make dust angels or ring the virgin bell. Entrance was quite uneventful actually but once inside things changed, I made my way towards the address of the camp and even Sunday night radiated a sort of energy I’d never really felt before. I found my camp, met a few of the guys and set up my tent and got organized.

Throughout the week I wandered the playa like a mesmerized child in a huge toy department. My camera by my side for most of the time however I soon realized that one does not simply capture Burning Man to a memory card. It’s practically redundant. I didn’t take a lot of shots early on, eventually quite a few of the artwork and then when I took my cart out many of the people I met. Mere snippets of what its really like to be there. I felt as if a guy could shoot constantly for the week but really only scoop a few specks of plankton from the ocean that is Black Rock City.

I was blessed early in the week when I met and had an amazing conversation with David Best. What a genuinely beautiful human being that man is. I simply wanted to tell him Thank You for the amazing temple and 15 minutes later I was walking back to camp with the residue of an intense conversation swirling through my head and a very full heart.

When the dust (which really wasn’t as bad as everyone was saying it was going to be) subsided enough I was out with my bike and cart, meeting many great people while taking their portraits. It was so much fun. Even with this project however there were times where I still felt alone as everyone seemed to be busy with their own exploring and their own friends. Over the week through the immense sensory overload I did realize that a lot of this feeling stems from the way I have become in the default world. A person doesn’t simply transform into Captain Extrovert just because they landed their ass on the playa. It still takes some effort. I think if I learned one thing while experiencing my first burn it was that there are MANY open doors to new people and new experiences while in BRC. The biggest mistake a person like me can make is to NOT go through any of them.  That is going to be different next year.

So with that said I’ll say that despite my few learning disabilities, I still had an AMAZING time. It was beyond what I could have ever expected and larger than anyone can ever explain,  in energy, creativity, love, acceptance and shear physical size. The art was incredible and the people that make up the community are the most creative and expressive humans I’ve ever had the chance to meet. The photos I’ve taken and others I’ve seen do not relay what Burning Man really is. it  is an experience that has to be experienced, felt, inhaled, and viewed first hand. Anything short of that is depriving one’s self of one of the most amazing events of your life.

Burning Man 2012 blew my mind. Here’s to many many more.