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Writing + Photography

Memoirs and musings of Darius Bashar. Toronto portrait photographer and writer, in pursuit of all things real, raw and intimate. 

I Convinced An Editor To Help Me… And Then Ran Out Of Things To Write
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It’s different to have someone waiting for your writing. It feels distracting. It feels like an outside exercise, as opposed to an inner journey. I have a lot of resistance to the process. Currently.

I am okay with that. I know growth often feels uncomfortable. I also know that — despite the resistance — my human is highly adaptable and resourceful. He just needs a minute… and I have all the time for my human.

I realized today during my morning meditation that there is a totally different relationship I could develop with my human. I realized today that maybe my human is my soulmate.

The last 2 weeks I added a new element to my morning ritual. At 2 instances during my morning meditation/yoga flow, I take a minute to express to my mind and then my body, the gratitude and affection I hold for both of them. This is going to sound weird, but this affection is:

  • 1 part what I would normally tell my partner Sarah, when I want to express my love and gratitude for her, and…
  • 1 part what I imagine telling my future kids.

I express how much each (my mind and my body) means to me. I find honest and meaningful things to say to both. I try to be very specific and speak straight from my heart. And I check in to see if they are able to receive my love and gratitude. If they are not receiving it, I then try and adjust my language and approach.

The goal is to let them know I love them, I support them and that I wouldn’t want to be going through this life with anyone else.

All this to say, my human (aka my mind and body) is having a bit of tough go with this collaborative writing/editing flow. The good news is that it’s only week one since I started working with an editor.

I am going to give my mind and body some space and time to adjust. I’m going to listen to any suggestions they might have to optimize the process. I’m also going to stay open and honest with my editor, Sal. She’s great and I have a feeling she’ll understand the unique relationship I have with my human.

But also…

I am going to keep showing up. I’m going to keep doing the work. At first, my writing might not be to the standards of the past few months, but I’m going tokeep going. All of me. Mind, Body and Soul, together like one big cosmic family.

Don't You Dare Call Yourself A Professional, Unless...

Professional athletes call it two-a-days. That’s when they train twice per day.

I had this realization last September. The months prior were very challenging and unique (for me).

Without warning, one of the most important humans in my life had been diagnosed with Leukaemia. This was the first time something like this had come up.

Like with virtually all major forms of cancer, there was a realistic chance that this incredible human, that has deeply impacted my life since my birth, would no longer be with us by Christmas.

This experience brought me to the realization that there is a “last breath” looking for all of us. This wasn’t some poetic concept anymore. It was fucking real!
One day I will LITERALLY take my last breath. It could be 50 years from now, or it could be 50 mins. There is no way to know for certain and nothing you can do to prevent it from eventually finding you.

We all know this to be true with our minds. But something shifted for me last September. For the first time in my life, I felt it to be true with my heart.

It felt as if someone would literally come and take my camera and laptop away. This made me realize I had so many more photos left inside me.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad I would be if I did not realize and release those photos in my heart, into the world. If my last breath found me and all of a sudden it was too late.

It was a wake up call. It was obvious to me that I had allowed myself to become lazy and stagnant.

What was I waiting for? I had all the gear. I knew how to use it. I lived in an incredible city. And most importantly I fucking love photography.

Once, a voice in the back of my head had the balls to say something as stupid as,

“You’re a professional and professionals only shoot when they get paid.”

One swift dirty look from my heart, shut that guy up for good.

  • I shoot because I love photography.
  • I shoot because it reminds me that magic lives everywhere.
  • I shoot because there is no other experience that makes me feel as alive, as creating.
  • I shoot because one day I won’t be able to. One day my last breath will find me, and this life will be over.

So, I made a decision to go out and practice photography every morning.

I’d wake up at 4am, just so I’d be able to do all my morning ritual stuff (meditation, yoga, writing, etc) and then catch the sunrise. I’d be home by the time most people start work. This allowed me to do all my paid “9–5” photography work as well.

A Few Example Photos From Those Early Morning Shoots: 

(click to enlarge)

It's a profound experience to create something before 9am every morning, especially when that creation has nothing to do with commerce. It reminds you that a good day and a good *work* day are NOT the same thing. 

We are not commerce machines put here to make and spend money. That's not what this life is about. We are expression machines that have magic inside us. We just need the courage to look into our hearts and share what we find. 

During my morning mediation today, I realized that I have forgetting all of this. I have NOT been acting like a professional photographer. I have NOT been practicing my craft 5+ times a week. I know it's February and it's cold as fuck outside, but that's not an excuse. Not if I truly desire to be world class one day. 

It was a slap in the face this morning. One I needed to feel. It stung, because it was founded in truth. Thankful The Universe spoke up and did not mince words. 

So, now I course correct and get back to the work. Get back to practicing daily. Get back to activley seeking out failure. Get back to understanding my limits so I can push past them. 

But also, I get back to fun. I get back to that amazing feeling of creating and expressing daily. I get back to working with remarkable humans. I get back to discovering more of this incredible city.  And I get back to finding more magic inside my heart. 

Slaps to the face can hurt, but they can also quickly alert you to danger. It's so easy to fall into zombie mode and miss all the beauty and magic that perpetually exists around us.

What do you think? 

Is it possible to call yourself a professional if you don't practice your craft at least 5 times per week? I know it's not the only criteria, but for me it's a crucial one. 

Love to know what you guys think. 

My Photography Exposed A Major Gap In My Life

I had a powerful realization two days ago about writing, but more importantly about life. Like most meaningful lessons in life, it was simple. It almost seems obvious after the fact.

I actually already wrote about this particular lesson a few months ago, but I was only looking at it from the perspective of photography. For those of you who don’t know, I work as a professional portrait and fashion photographer.

That original post was and still remains, one of my all-time favourite writings. It was also my shortest post ever. It didn’t really attract any attention. Very few “likes”, comments and shares.

But that didn’t matter.

For me, everything was in those 22 words.

I initially wrote the post focussed on my photography process, but when I looked back, I saw it was so much more than that.

It’s a road map to living a full life. Don’t be fooled by the brevity of the original post. It’s short, but if you pay attention, everything I know about life can be found in those 4 simple steps.

I have listed 3 versions below. The first is the original, which was entirely focussed on my photography process.

The other two have slight modifications that make them specific to writing and life.

Again, don’t be fooled by how simple it is.

Also, there is a difference between simple and easy.

My Process (Photography)

  • Find the story
  • Find the light
  • Find myself (“Anyone can take a portrait. Where is Darius in this photo?”)
  • Lose everything else

My Process (Writing)

  • Find the story (One simple take-away that the audience can articulate in a single sentence, after finishing your writing.)
  • Find the light (there is a specific access point where this story has the best chance of truly being seen)
  • Find myself (Show your heart. Show your vulnerability. Don’t lecture. Put your lived-experience at the centre of this story.)
  • Lose everything else

My Process (Life)

  • Find the story (Who do you want to be? Fundamentally different questions than, what do you want to be. One is about finding your purpose. The other is about a career.)
  • Find the light (there are specific beliefs you need to explore, that will allow this story to come to life. Just remember all beliefs are horse shit.)
  • Find myself (Explore your heart. Celebrate your vulnerability. Feel deeper. Think higher.)
  • Lose everything else

I’ve always been obsessed with exploring the creative process of highly successful artists and innovators. I would eat up anything I could find on the topic.

But what about a Life Process?

It’s taken me 35 years to realize I don’t have a conscious Life Process. Or I didn’t, until now. But guess what, not having a process is also a process. It embraces randomness, with the hopes that maybe shit goes your way. It’s very passive and totally unpredictable.

It’s like a writer waiting around for inspiration to find them. That’s not how great writing works. It’s also not how anything great works for that matter.

So, do you have an active life process that you can articulate?

If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Has it worked for you, or does it get in the way?

I’m new to the life process game, but I have a feeling it might just be a game changer.

Conversations With God

Sometimes God drops profound wisdom from the sky. I call these DMs from God. As in, direct messages.

But sometimes she doesn’t need to. Sometimes all she needs to do is ask a simple, perfectly timed question.

Today during my meditation, I started spiralling down a very unproductive path. For whatever reason I was fixated on solving a recent work problem. I watched myself, as I spent valuable meditation energy trying to solve a business problem that ultimately was not aligned with my core values or my highest self.

Then, all of a sudden God stepped in and asked one simple question.

“What do YOU really want Darius?”

I took one deep breath then suddenly — peace and clarity filled the room.

The 5-part answer flew out of me, with no hesitation.

  1. I want to show people the magic that exists everywhere, when they experience life from the seat of their soul.
  2. I want to remind people that the voice in their head is not them. We each have one of those voices and for whatever reason it’s always the thing that holds us back the most.
  3. I want to show people the boundless strength that exists in vulnerability.
  4. I want to help people bring down their walls, so that they can dive deep into their own hearts. The heart is the gateway to The Infinite. That’s the birthplace of all magic. That’s also where our greatest dreams are waiting for us.
  5. And last, but certainly not least, I want to show people how trulybeautiful they are.
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My Racist Uncle Sucks, But So Does Yours

We all have one. It doesn’t specfically have to be an uncle. It could be an aunt, grandparent or even a sibling.

It also doesn't’ have to be a race thing. At the core, it actually has nothing to do with race. Your uncle is just one of those pessimistic energy vampires.

For whatever reason, he seems to really enjoy hating on things.

 Photo by  Gus Moretta  on  Unsplash

Photo by Gus Moretta on Unsplash

A few traits of Uncle Dickhead:

  • His default is always the worst case scenario.
  • He can’t keep his mouth shut. Freaking chatterbox.
  • He loves exaggerating and blowing things way out of proportion.
  • He is always critical of people trying new things.
  • His comments often upsets or triggers people.
  • He will never change. (Let’s be honest.)

Now imagine it’s Thanksgiving and you arrive at your parents place, only to find out nobody is attending this years dinner - with one exception — your uncle.

For the next 5 hours it’s just you and him. No one to deflect. No one to distract. No other voices to balance out his batshit crazy commentary!

Terrifying right?

What if I told you Uncle Dickhead actually lives in each of us.

Seriously, go back and review those 6 traits above and tell me your internal narritive doesn’t do all the same shit. Only difference (and it’s a big one) our internal narritive has a fancy device which can manipulate our uncle’s voice to sound exactly like our own voice. Also our uncle somehow found a way to install really small speakers on the inside of our head.

So not only does our uncle sound exactly like our own voice, which can be super confusing, but he even seems to be coming directly from inside our own head. Sneaky right!

Sounds like a Black Mirror episode, except it’s real, for all of us.

Here’s the great news. Despite his toxic nature, Uncle Dickhead can’t really hurt anyone. For the most part he’s harmless, unless of course you spend too much time in his presence. Especially if it’s just you and him. That can actually be devastating.

It should also be noted that denying your uncle’s existence isn’t a good idea either. That will just agitating him more. You want to acknowledge him, but make sure not entangle yourself too deeply into his beliefs.

Smile, nod and and if things start to get harry, find an excuse to go help mom in the kitchen. Or better yet, make an alliance with a more optimistic family member. If Uncle Dickhead corners either of you, the other will come to the rescue.

It’s really important that you invite other people into the conversation. The more voices at the dinner table the less your uncle’s pessimistic commentary will impact you.

If you isolate just your uncle’s voice for too long, things will get really dark.

But that’s exactly what we do when we are going through a hard time, especially men. We isolate ourselves and go into our caves. I do it all the time. It feels easier that way. Less messy. Less exposed.

But here’s the thing, it’s not just us in the cave. Uncle’s in there too and he feeds off of isolation. There are no other voices to balances his insanity out, so his chatter is going full throttle and caves are known to echo.

Sooner or later if you spend too much time in your cave with Uncle Dickhead, you’ll start to believe his lunacy. And trust me that’s not good for anyone.

FULL DISCLAIMER:

I love all my uncles. They are lovely humans, whom I cherish and love.

I can already read the email from my mom. “Which uncle are you talking about?!!” None mom. I promise. :)

ALSO:

The handsome fellow in the photo above is not my uncle and there is a good chance he’s also not a racist. He might be a sweet human for all I know. I just needed a photo for Medium.com and this guy had that classic uncle feel to him. :)

Legacy Always Starts with Trauma

We each have a gift to share with the world.

A key take-away. A purpose. Our legacy.

That gift almost always originates as a trauma.

That trauma has brought much insecurity and pain into our lives.

Some of us decided to bury our gift/trauma in a dark corner because it was too messy.

That very trauma has ALSO made us uniquely qualified to share our gift through our story.

We do not have to share our story with the world. That is our choice.

At some point we should do the math and determine if the risk is worth the reward.

Do we share our gift with the world or do we keep it to ourselves?

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I Think God Dumped Me

To say the last 6 months of my life have been the most transformative, would be massive understatement. The best way to describe it would be a spiritual awakening, which for whatever reason led to a 10 X output of creative work.

It was freaking awesome. It was also terrifying because I shared many personal details of my life and let the world see my heart.

That same heart seemed to have a direct connection to the Universe (aka God). This allowed writing, photos, videos and conversations to flow out of me at an unprecedented pace.

But here’s the thing, exactly 13 days ago that connection was severed.

Imagine you had God’s direct line and she was DMing you epic amounts of ideas/content/insights and then all of a sudden, God ghosts you. No more DMs. No more replies. No more magic!

What happened? Was it me? What did I do OR not do? Was I sending too many text? Was I too needy? Did God find someone else she’d rather DM?

This made me feel many things. Sad, confused, lost and very insecure, to name a few. 

For 13 days I’ve been walking around magic-less. :( This threw me off my schedule big time. No 4 AM wake ups, no meditation, no yoga, no writing and no sharing. This of course led to even less inspiration.

This really sucked.

But then, last night it happened. I got my first DM from God in 13 days.

I was at my first ever ecstatic dance event (will explain later) and just before 100+ strangers were about to spend 2 hours dancing in total silence (as in, no talking) the DJ got us to do a really fun exercise. He asked us to stand in a big circle and to imagine we are at the edge of giant cliff, our toes 2 inches from the end. He asked us to set our intention for the night, while standing at the edge of this cliff. I took a big breath, closed my eyes and was transported to that cliff. I asked my heart “So…what do ya wanna do?”

Then, all of a sudden I felt the ding in my heart. It was a DM from God!!

It read:

“Sometimes we float. Sometimes we fly and other times we deep dive. Seasons change, you need to adjust, but that does NOT mean you stop doing the work. Energy comes and goes, but the work keeps.”

It was everything I needed.

 Photo by  Karol Goldstein  on  Unsplash