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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. 

Posts tagged Confessions
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. 

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. :)

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
Bronchitis of The Soul

My heart feels congested. It also feels distant and muted. Maybe it was the flu. Maybe it was the super moon. Maybe it was something else. My morning meditations have not been the same.

My signal is full of static and interference. 

For now, I will rely on my mind and body to support me while I mend my heart antenna. 

I will go back to the basics, until the storm passes. 

  • 4am wake ups
  • Meditation everyday
  • Yoga everyday
  • Writing everyday
  • Poetry everyday
  • Exercise to create energy and sweat blockages out
  • Engage with people often
Photo by  Sam Burriss  on  Unsplash

Photo by Sam Burriss on Unsplash

Heart to Mouth: Day 01 - "How To Change The World"

This video series entitled, “Heart to Mouth” is an experiment to see what happens when I turn my camera on immediately after my morning meditation.

“Flow” is the closest we can ever be to God (aka The Universe). When we flow and are present in the moment, our hearts fill up with light. That light is direct access to pure abundance and infinite wisdom.

In my opinion that light is meant to be released and expressed to its fullest. When we share that light that shines inside our hearts with the world, it allows us to live authentically, but it also presents an opportunity for others to recognize that same incredibly light inside of themselves.

During this particular morning meditation, the DM (direct message) from the Universe was guidance on how to change the world.

Glad to see the Universe is starting nice and slow. ;)

Last week was amazing. This week was good. Yesterday Sucked.

Last week might have been my most productive ever.

What’s more interesting to me, than what I managed to complete last week, is how smoothly the week flowed. It didn’t feel like work. There wasn’t much struggle. I would definitely not use the word hustle to describe the week. It just flowed and felt great the whole way.

I got lots of positive feedback on my work. More than ever before. I was humbled by the flood of incredible support, especially after my post about goals for 2018. People from all over wanted to help me achieve these goals. I sincerely did not expect that response and still to this day, don’t fully understand why people felt so moved by that post. Just being honest.

Since that post:

  • I’ve been taken on as a client by a professional speakers coach, with a great track record
  • I was invited to speak at a really cool event in March
  • A yoga instructor has offered to teach me new flows
  • A meditation instructor has offered to show me a new advanced meditation practice
  • A friend sent my work to a few prominent magazine editors, to review
  • I booked several coffee meet-ups with really amazing people
  • Somehow I achieved over 280,000 new views in one week!!!

Honestly, I am shocked by all the love and support.

I got to ask — was this support always there and I chose to ignored it because I was afraid to ask for help?

How much potential is slipping through my hands, by letting my egos run the show?

Speaking of my ego…

This week felt different.

It was all hustle. Lots of struggle. Felt like I was chasing all week. After almost every interaction, I felt depleted and diminished. I had a very productive week, in terms of content, but every time I posted something new, I felt rushed, forced and uneasy.

What was I chasing?

If I’m honest, I think I was after the approval of the all the people in the previous week. I was writing to achieve the same ends as week one, instead of just letting go and flowing. I was chasing the past, chasing approval.

The thing with chasing, is that it can feel invigorating while you are doing it. There is definitely a runners-high you get from the process, but the moment you stand still for second, the emptiness floods through. So either you continue chasing forever (not humanily possible), or you face reality.

Yesterday I stood still…

…and let me tell you how shitty it felt. I finally stopped chasing and was promptly smacked in the face by reality. The emptiness hit me hard. I realized that I had forgotten about the magic of the process and focused entirely on the ends, which whether you get their or not, always feels empty.

I realized that the chase was less about achieving a specfic goal and more about running away from parts of myself that I am not yet ready to face. This realization was really tough. It hurt, because of how true it was.

What’s The Lesson?

Chasing is equality as toxic as the denial.

Both, put my ego in the driver’s seat.

Both, inevitably lead to emptiness.

Both, ignore the infinite wisdom of my soul.

My Facebook Feed, Through The Lens of Eternity

Sometimes, I imagine a time after my death.

I imagine my Facebook memories feed. You know, that reminder everyday that tells you what you shared on this exact day, in past years.

I imagine convincing a friend to login to my Facebook account after my death and re-share one post from my past, everyday.

My intention isn't to fool anyone into believing I am still alive, but instead to (hopefully) bring value to peoples lives with my content after my death. That value could be laugher, insight, vulnerability, kindness, support, goofiness, etc, etc. It doesn't all have to be serious and philosophical. It can also be fun and light. 

For me, there is something very empowering about imagining my social media content and my self-expression through the lens of eternity. I prefer that perspective, much more than through the lens of instant gratification and "likes", which I also fall victim to, much more than I'd like to admit. 

Here's what my Facebook memories looks like for today (Jan 10th). 

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What would your feed say about you, after your death? (see your own here)

Is that message how you want to be remembered for eternity

Personally, I know I have many posts that are not how I want to be remembered. 

But that's okay. Those posts got me here and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Social Media as a Spiritual Experience

I used to loath social media. Facebook and Instagram used to make me incredibly mentally unhealthy.

As a photographer, Instagram was really hard because at the core of the experience is comparison. You can't avoid looking at people's likes, comments and followers. You quickly ascribe value to users who have more of each. Also, you are overloaded by an endless supply of content. It literally never stops. Which is another point of comparison. e.g. "I am not doing enough. I need to be working/shooting more."

For years, it was very stressful opening Instagram on my phone. I would fall into these roller coaster usage patterns. Classic addictive behaviour, playing at the extremes of love and hate. 

I'd hate instagram and stay fully away and call it a "social media detox" to make myself sound enlightened and put together (hilarious!). After a month or two I'd start-up again and post a shit ton of content for a few weeks. Not seeing the results I expected (which were totally unreasonable to start with), I would go down the comparison rabbit hole all over again. It would take about 1-2 months before I would feel so mentally drained and unstable, that I'd need to detox again. 

This past December, something shifted.

The best way I can describe it was that I stopped seeing with my eyes.

Huh!?? 

I know that sounds crazy, but when I close my eyes, there is no "me" and "you", no "us" and "them". With my eyes closed everything collapses and there is only, all of us. I know that might sound totally hokey to you, but I'm okay with that. I don't need to prove this to others, I am good with just feeling it for myself. 

In December, I decided I was going to let go of "competition" as a limiting belief and become the world's biggest photography fan. This radically changed my life.

When I open Instagram now, I don't see competition, I see art. I started letting my heart do the scrolling, instead of my very insecure mind. My heart is constantly losing its shit (in a good way) over the insane amounts of talent on my feed. Honestly, I am literally yelling and clapping constantly as I scroll through Instagram and Facebook.

When I feel an emotional charge from anything on my feed, I do my best to comment or "like" immediately. My intention is to speak as directly as possible - heart to mouth, with no detours in my mind.

This behaviour definitely trips people out. Especially local photographers. I can tell they are very confused and doubtful. I can see them thinking "Why would a local competitor, publicly recognized AND praise me?! 

It so obvious for me now. It's because I love what you stand for. I love your passion for photography. I love your composition and use of colour and texture. I love your ability to tell a story with a single frame. I love your mastery of light and shadow. I love your commitment to the city, to art, to human expression!! I love your hustle. I love your struggle. I love your persistence and tenacity. Why in the world would I not hit that like button?!!

What you stand for and who you are in this world, is important. So fuck yeah, I will recognize and praise you.

Don't buy into to the concept of competition. It's an illusion they created to separate us. I know this makes no sense to your mind, but that's okay. Some things are best left for your heart. 

They say "give away, that which you seek". That's sort of what I am doing here. But it's not likes or followers I am seeking. It's community and impact. It's support and love.

In my heart I know these quality are not captured by simplistic metrics, made-up by some dudes in their 20's, in a dorm room in Harvard, 15 years ago. It's important to remember that.

Love is much bigger than likes and followers. 

To the insanely talented photographers that constantly inspire me on my feed - I want to thank you for being so committed, passionate and loving to the craft of photography. In a way, we are all in an open relationship with photography, and the better you are to her, the more LOVE she has for me.  

Shout outs to Tina Picard, Brian YppercielVerne Ho, Jon Simo, SoteeohPatrick Tomasso, Ajani Charles, Luis Mora, The Sensual Eye, just to name a few. You homies are so brilliant and so talented. Your work lights me on fire, daily. 

I've known some of you for years, others, only a few weeks and only online. Regardless, you have each left a deep imprint on both my work and my life, and it's about time you knew that. 

Much love! 

D (aka Wolfee)

One of the first photos I ever shot with my fancy Canon T3i. I had no idea how to use my camera, but that wasn't going to stop me. :)

One of the first photos I ever shot with my fancy Canon T3i. I had no idea how to use my camera, but that wasn't going to stop me. :)