Friday, 23 March 2018

How to find your creative muse - an adventure blog.

As an incessant planner I, well…plan everything. I even take it upon myself to schedule and plan stuff for those I see daily so that they too have a plan! (Sorry roomie and ex bf’s!)

 Now me being a planner is not always a good thing, especially for a creative person. I mean, if I’m scheduled to write at 5-6pm daily and I suddenly have this inspirational writing surge at 2pm, it kinda makes things difficult for me because then…do I cease what I’m meant to do at 2pm and instead write OR do I wait for this unexpected writing force to remain in my brain for an extra three hours till my scheduled time?

Oh, the dilemmas of an artist planner.

Anyway, the good news is, I’m slowly learning to balance what I need to. Meaning, I’m attempting to be more spontaneous on things that don’t need adherence to the hands of a clock.

Which is why last week, I made the choice to temporarily steer away from my Sunday routine (my Sundays are usually filled with exercise, designing, writing, cooking and deep conditioning my hair) and instead welcomed a last-minute invite by my friends to explore Hazelmere Dam, in my province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. (My first ever trip to that dam.)

Come Sunday morning, I was all set to go. Wearing my black fitted shorts (thank goodness I did plenty of squats that week), a black and white striped tank top, green sporty hat, silver hoop earrings, and cute black and white flats, I felt the excitement within me stir. Plenty of food, assorted snacks and bottles of wines were all packed, and the new ‘spontaneous’ me was prepared to head off.

An hour later, we arrived at our destination.

The weather, despite the humidity, was perfect for an outdoor adventure. A slight wind caressed the air while the tranquility of the sun poured out over green trees and grass. The dam, displaying its vast area and calmness, was a brownish-blue magnetic field filled with that translucent liquid we all require.

Many families or lovers took time out to attend Hazelmere that day, with some of them jet skiing or fishing while others braaied. (Also known as a barbeque.)

For a minute, I imagined, maybe this is what heaven would feel like - a place immersed in inner and outer peace, and where friends and strangers occupy every minute in bliss and fun while munching on the most satisfying of foods.

The place is a photographer or an artist’s dream, and after snapping a few pictures for myself, my friend produced something even more captivating – his dinghy boat, operated by a motor and which fits a maximum of four people or three hundred kilograms.

Because it was my first time to the dam, I was given the opportunity to go on the dinghy with three other friends. Bear in mind, that the last time I did any swimming was about twelve years ago and even at my best, I’m a feeble swimmer. If I was pushed into water, I can honestly say I most probably would drown – and drowning is a big fear of mine!

However, I was thrilled at the fact that the boat was available and I could go on it in order to experience a bit more of nature.

With wine bottles, glasses and chips, we stepped into the dinghy and off we went. The placid water allowed us the most beautiful of rides – we floated gently across the gigantic dam; breathing in the serenity of nature while passing by an array of green scenery. Various birds and monkeys treated us to an amazing sight as they playfully weaved themselves amongst the trees. Even the ride itself had a calming effect on us; we could have closed our eyes and drifted off for hours with no worries.

The whole experience took about thirty minutes and I didn’t want to leave the boat when we got back to the others!

After our braai and towards the late afternoon, my friend suggested we ride on the dinghy again, but this time we ride around the other side of the dam.

Two of my six friends, who are not fans of water, declined the ride and so I jumped at the chance to take their place. Yet again, with wine and snacks in hand, we stepped into the boat and wandered off into the land of liquid.  

There was good, relaxed conversation, sips of wine and a feeling of stress evacuating our body as the boat glided over water. Sitting there, with my legs dangling out the boat and soaking in the enchantment, I realized how exquisite and therapeutic nature was!

 But… as the formula of life goes - nothing ever stays constant and as we sat talking about past adventures, dark clouds suddenly loomed, signalling a warning. We remained calm though as everything around us was mild.

Within a couple of minutes however, a bright flash of lightning produced itself in the distance and seconds later an almighty thunder roared. My friend estimated that the storm was twelve minutes away and we would reach our friends on land, just before the storm would hit. I looked around and to my growing concern, noticed that we were the only ones on water! Goosebumps travelled along my arm as the sunny day quickly morphed into bleakness; and it seemed as if mother nature was about to release her wrath.

I prayed that we would reach the others before the storm commenced but that wasn't meant to be. In what felt like less than five minutes time, a heavy downpour of rain emerged, soaking every inch of our bodies. The wind had rapidly built up and caused the dinghy to sway in an erratic manner.

We were out in the middle of the damn and still away from the grassy area. I knew then - it was time for me to panic!

 Bright flashes lit up the sky, while the furious rain pounded down, as if it could not contain its excitement knowing we were trapped in its realm. A boisterous thunder screamed from the heavens, letting us know who was in charge.

 The dinghy could only travel at a certain speed so while we swayed, we held onto each other, hoping the boat would not topple - that we would not get struck by lightning - and that we would reach the others in time.

Flashbacks of the movie, “The Perfect Storm” entered my head, and even though we weren’t in a tumultuous ocean, it was still scary! A dark grey moved in, setting a baleful atmosphere and everyone on land was by that time, taking shelter in their vehicles.

I kept thinking that if the boat subsided, would I be able to swim?! Can one still swim after never having swam for years and years? Or was this how I would die?

“Jade, laid to rest because she chose adventure rather than sticking to her schedule.”

 (We didn’t have life jackets on BTW, even though there was a sign saying that life jackets were compulsory.)

Rain continued to shower down, and us, in our minimum clothing, felt its icy cold droplets hit our flesh. Lightning and thunder appeared between shorter seconds and the once calm water, now looked ready to spew anything out of it’s hold.

(I think I even started praying in about five different languages that I didn’t know I could speak!)

But then suddenly, somehow, this magical moment dawned on me, and I looked up.

The ‘chaos’ around me, was the most breath-taking sight I had ever witnessed and mother nature, I realised, was not angry. She was just feeding the earth in the most beautiful way she does. All fear absconded; I could see we were nearing the others and I utilised the last six minutes to sit and revel in the beauty of that majestic storm.

It was one of the most wonderful moments I had ever lived.

The boat continued to move side to side and the grey was turning into black, but still, I sat and watched the storm while experiencing it with the greatest of fascination.

Finally, we reached the grassy area just as hailstones appeared. The rain refused to subside and we packed the boat and quickly ran into the vehicles with our soaking wet bodies and where our other friends, dry as can be, sat, waiting for us. All jackets and blankets got wrapped around our bodies and then...they started the car and off we drove, back to Durban…

I love nature and outdoors but I’m not someone who goes out often. Experiencing such an intense adventure at the dam was both different and amazing for me. Although sadly, a few people, throughout the years and on different occasions did drown at the dam, may their souls rest in peace - so we took a huge chance on not wearing life jackets.

(Also note to self: Make certain that next time we read up on the weather forecast!)

All in all, I regretted nothing of Hazelmere and would do it repeatedly! There was this renewed energy within me and I was so glad that I hadn't stuck to my Sunday routine.

A few days later, sitting in my bed with a cup of hot tea, I reminisced about that day.

My lesson that I took away from that encounter, is that sometimes – especially as an artist - it’s vital to break away from work for a little and do something that’s different and gets the heart pumping in a non-dangerous and exciting way. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone every now and then should be practised, because it creates a sort of welcoming muse. I know for me that after that Sunday, I had such energy, motivation and bliss that my creative juices were flowing like a grand waterfall. And it wasn’t solely because of the storm; riding in the boat during the day when all was calm, was just as inspiring.

So, to all creatives out there, and even non-creatives -if you ever feel you’re stuck in a rut, or producing the same type of work over and over again, or even if you need a creative spurt, try doing something out of the norm. The good energy you bring back will create abundant motivation.

Again, I mention do NOT do something that will endanger your life and make sure if need be, you take all proper precautions with what you decide! (Like I know now, I need to wear a life jacket if I go out to the dam.)

Also, doing something different every now and again can help you reap the rewards of seeing things from a new or unseen perspective, and you can use that to assemble into your work.

It’s something every person needs at times.

**Sometimes - but not everytime 'cos routine is vital peeps - breaking out of routine and doing something different is just ONE of the ways of rejuvenating your ideas and getting the creative flow going. In my blogs to follow, I will speak more about other ways of overcoming artistic block and finding and keeping your creative muse.**

So…here’s to happy (safe) adventures, not always sticking to routine and…wonderful creating!

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