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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 Long Format Writing
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
Don't Let Randomness Steal Your Power
Photo by  Mike Wilson  on  Unsplash

Photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash

Setting intentions might be the most important thing happening in my life right now.

I set intentions at least 10 times everyday, sometimes more.

I set intentions before meetings, before photoshoots, before I eat, before I sleep, before I take a call or walk into an event. Really, there is no limit.

My favourite thing about setting intentions is the echo.

Huh?!

I’ll give you an example. I attended an event a few weeks back. It was a screening and Q+A for a terrific film called A Better Man. I highly recommend watching it. Just be warned, it can be a really tough film to experience.

It was a community event, intended to create a safe space for men and women to connect and engage in productive dialogue, around assault and injustice against women.

Before I walked into the event I took 30 seconds, closed my eyes, squeezed my gratitude rock and searched my heart for my intentions.

Here are the 3 intentions that came up for me:

“Be authentic and speak heart-to-mouth.”

“Make space for others to share, contribute and heal.”

“Listen to any voice that is ready to be heard”

I went into the event a little nervous (I always get nervous at events). Then I noticed a few old Camp Reset homies, which I love dearly and am super comfortable around. So I instantly gravitated towards them. We started chatting, nothing in particular, just casual chit-chat.

At that point I also noticed several other people scattered around the room, all sitting quietly. I began to notice a big energy deficiency between us and them. What I mean by this is, we had a massive advantage of knowing each other for years, whereas most of the other people in the room, where strangers and considering the subject matter of the film, they were justifiably nervous. For the record I was very nervous too, it was just easier to mask my feelings in casual conversation with old friends.

So here’s how intention can be a powerful tool.

As I was catching up with these old friends, the energy I put into my intentions a few minutes back, kept building in my consciousness. I began to hear my intentions echoing through my mind, like a caring, but nagging mother, reminding me of what I had committed to earlier, and how I was not living up to those intentions. The echo got louder, until it was unavoidable.

Then, I knew what I had to do. I found a respectful and honest way to end my (causal) conversation with my old friend, and I walked towards this individual that was sitting on her own, in the back. I did my best to engage in an honest conversation with her. Turns out she was hella cool and we really connected.

Building off of this momentum, I continued to let my intentions guide me. I decided to sit in the opposite corner of the room, intentional away from my old friends. This part was tough. I felt guilty for not sitting next to my Camp Reset buddies, but instead of letting my emotions guide me, I listened to the wisdom of the echo from my intentions.

I ended up sitting in-between two men that I had never met before. Turns out this was a really good decision, as I later had several incredibly productive and healing conversations with both of these men. We did some deep sharing and it honestly felt like we all walked away a littler lighter.

Without my intention this evening would of ended up very differently. This was a small example of the power of intention, but it works just as effectively for massive life events as well. These smaller day-to-day intentions are practice, for when the big whoppers show-up.

What Did I Learn?

By setting clear intentions you are turning on a GPS that is guided by the wisdom of your Soul.

At many points in your life you will reach a fork in the road. You will need to quickly decide if it makes more sense for you to go right or left. This decision will have an impact on your life. Some decisions are transformative and leave a massive imprint, others leave a smaller impact. There are plenty of both in our lives.

If you took the time to set a clear intention ahead of time, then when these forks in the road show up in your life, your intention will echo in your mind like a soul-guided GPS.

If you don’t set an intention, that in itself is also an intention. It’s the intention of randomness. So when you reach a fork you will randomly chooseAND your outcome will be randomly selected. You can see how easily you can get lost with this type of intention.

What’s more concerning, is not that you might make the wrong decision when you reach a fork in the road, it’s that you won’t even notice that there is a decision to be made.

It will just seem like one singular path, which of course is not true.

This inability to even recognized the forks in the road, removes your agency and your power from the equation.

This is why intention is such a game changer in my life. It made me realize how much of my power I was giving away to randomness.

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.

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. :)

Darkness, Early This Morning

I woke up this morning and could feel a lingering darkness. It had a sting, like a bad bruise on the bottom of my foot. Every step, there it was. Quiet and persistent.

Like a bad taste in my mouth, it tainted all aspects of my morning. 

Two paths emerged before me.

Path 1 - Shake it off and get positive

Path 2 - Get curious and go deeper 

I pulled up my 2018 intentions and instantly knew which path was mine. (side note: I decided to review my intention every morning from now on. Not sure how this wasn't obvious before, but how else are you going to stay focussed for 365 days!?)

Time to go deeper: Awareness

What did I find? The feeling most resembled scarcity and competition mindset. Specifically, there were 2 people on my Facebook newsfeed that kept coming to mind. The sentiment was not a positive. My mind didn't want me to explore the topic. It kept deflecting and denying the feeling. I believe this was because acknowledging the feeling meant admitting there was pain, which made me vulnerable. BOOM! There it was. Two words my soul had recently agreed to seek out. Vulnerability and Pain, were to be my compass, as I journeyed into my soul.

Immediately there was a sense of relief, as I knew there was an opportunity for healing. 

Keep going deeper: Honesty

These 2 people on my feed are actually friends I deeply respect. They are both very talented and highly creative. I respect both, but also don't seek to spend time with either in real life. When I am around them, I feel like a smaller version of myself. My ego plays bigger, but I feel smaller. Interesting. 

They trigger feelings of insecurity every time I see them on my feed. I know this isn't about them. I know they are good people, but more importantly I know I am a good person too.

What they do or don't do, takes nothing away from me. Competition is a fucking illusion. Me vs Them isn't a real thing. My heart soars as I acknowledge this. It jumps to its feet and gives me a standing ovation. My mind on the other hand scoffs and mocks how naive I can be. I'm okay with this. I'm getting better at not wasting energy fighting, chasing or judging feelings. 

Both my heart and my mind are valid and can co-exist. It's up to me (the soul) to decide which serves me more, or if there is a third option to explore. 

At the core, I know it is a false sense of ownership that triggers these feelings of scarcity.

Then, without warning a voice whispered: 

Silly boy these ideas are not yours
These words, not yours
These conversations, not yours
These photos, NOT YOURS

You are but a vessel

Make space and God will continue flowing through you
But if you fill up with knowledge and facts, 
God will flow elsewhere
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How Dare You "Play Small"

I used to really struggle with speaking from my heart. I used to bury my truth and my light from the world, worried I might burden people. Feeling embarrassed if I took up too much attention or space. 

Don't get me wrong, there is great value in humility and making space for others, but that is not what this was. Playing small is not humility. Quite the contrary. Playing small is an act of selfishness.  

At the crux of playing small is a limiting belief that states:

"if I get (or act) too big I won't be loved."

What I've actually experienced in my life is that when I speak from my heart and let my light shine through, I end up giving others permission to do the same. Playing big activates the light in others and allows you to bond and connect with people at a much deeper level. This actually creates more opportunities for love in your life. 

Standing boldly in your power and letting your light shine through, is a very important gift we can give our community and the world. It inspires others to do the same - to seek out their own truth and to follow their hearts. This is a great responsibility and privilege we each hold. 

Joseph Campbell said it best "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are."

The game changer for me was the realization that the light that longs to shine through me, is actually not mine at all. It belongs to God.

When we deny that light from shining through us, we are denying God. 

Personally, I'm done playing small. It does not serve me, my community or The Universe. 

Shine bright my friend, before it's too late. 

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My First "About" Page
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IT ALL STARTED WHEN...

My friend Lana asked me a very silly question. 

"if you could send one message via a single tweet, all the way back in time, to your 14-year old self, what would you say?"

After a few minutes of really thinking about her question I replied with:

 "Art Matters. Trust your heart. Go to film school." 

Lana's immediate reply was "You know it's not too late." I laughed and quickly told her how impossible that would be. I was 28 at the time and there were just too many bills and responsibilities to entertain such a ridiculous idea. Impossible, no possible way. That was a fun thought experiment, but time to get back to reality. 

Fast forward 6 weeks and somehow I had been accepted into one of the best film schools in the country, with a $20K scholarship and I was getting ready to move my entire life to Vancouver. This part still sounds unbelievable to me, but guess what, it really happened. 

Continue reading the full story here. 

Pain Will Set You Free - NSFW

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is not.

Michael Singer said it best “Pain is the cost of freedom.”

At some point in every human’s life, there will be Trauma (another word for pain). These darker moments in our lives bring up feelings that can be very heavy and often overwhelming.

A common approach to heavier feelings is to suppress them. This is the cause of all emotional suffering. In an attempt to “feel better” we often ignore or deny these feelings. Short-term, this can help us actually feel better. Long-term, this denial is the single most detrimental action we partake in — both emotionally, and spiritually. 

At the moment of trauma, if we decide to deny our feelings and close-up, we unintentionally trap that darker energy inside of us. This ball of densely trapped energy inevitably becomes a blockage in our heart.

The irony is that, in an attempt to move away from those unwanted feelings, we actually end-up bringing them infinity closer.

This approach traps those dreaded feelings inside us, like a roommate we loath, but for some reason decided to sign a 20-year lease with. That which we are trying to leave behind, ends-up owning real estate inside our most precious possession — our hearts.

Healing happens when we realize darkness is not evil or a bottomless pit. Darkness is merely the blockage of light. These blockages are living within each of us and are preventing the magnificent beauty of our light from shining onto the world.

Stepping into the pain can be scary. It feels darker because with every step we are getting closer to the blockage. It can feel isolating because with every step we are moving away from the surface and its many distractions.

But remember, with every step we are ALSO moving closer to the light, moving closer to the Infinite and closer to freedom.

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(click to enlarge photos below)