Chasing Fireflies

I'm a HUGE fan of Ray LaMontagne, and after reading an article about his upcoming album this morning and finding this quote of his - I am an even bigger fan than I ever, ever was before.  It's refreshing to hear from artists you admire that they face the exact same challenges as everyone else.  The creative block, and the elusive "a-ha!" moment.

For the longest time these songs were eluding me. I felt like a kid trying to collect lightning bugs. I’d catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and run for it, but the light would go out just as I thought I’d gotten hold of one. But eventually I caught on to their game. I stopped chasing them altogether. Instead I just sat there as if I were completely disinterested in them. And wouldn’t you know it, one by one they came to me! Flew right into my jar.
— Ray LaMontagne
 
Ray Lamontagne, by the talented Danny Clinch

Ray Lamontagne, by the talented Danny Clinch

Fireflies (2010) - "I think that people who can't believe in fairies aren't worth knowing." – Tori Amos

Fireflies (2010) - "I think that people who can't believe in fairies aren't worth knowing." – Tori Amos

It reminded me of one of my first and favourite images (above) from my 365 Days Project - Fireflies.  I was in a very experimental stage with photography and photo manipulation when I did this, and to this day I don't know whether the fireflies are coming to me, or if I'm releasing them into the woods in the photo.  Perhaps a bit of both?  

Anyways - Ray's quote rang so true to how I've been feeling lately - chasing ideas and concepts and trying to pin them down, always seeming to lose them through my fingers and watching them flicker off into the night.  When you think of all the truly good things you have in your life - they are likely all things that just came to you.  They aren't the things you went looking for, they aren't the things you brought home.  They're always the things that surprised you, that found you, and that you attracted.  Ideas - the good ones - are just like that.  You (well, myself anyways) - can't sit down and force a great idea.  All the good ones arrive when they want to and when you're (hopefully) ready for them.  The only photos of mine that I actually love are the ones that were inspired - not the ones I did for the sake of creating something.  

I’ve always been inspired by visual artists of all mediums because, as with Music, Art is not a job you can go to and leave from; but it is something that defines who and what you are.
— Tori Amos

The quote I originally used for Fireflies was by the love of my life Tori Amos, who shares my attitude that all of her songs (like any piece of art anyone creates) - are like people.  Ghosts, even - that choose when they want to be seen, or heard, or have their story told.  Just like the faeries and fireflies - leave them alone, and they will eventually come to you.  It's just our job to translate what they want to say.

Tori's album "Under The Pink" (it's right over there on the right - listen to it!) is one of those albums that teleports me to a different time and place - 17 year olds and not yet big enough to make sense of all the ideas in my head and not yet smart enough to make art from all the emotions in my heart.  Back then, there was no chasing fireflies and lightning bugs - they swarm to you when you're young.  As you get older and more self-aware - that's when the chasing starts to happen, when you start reaching for inspiration that wouldn't leave you alone once upon a time. 

I think I'm finally learning to simply stop trying.  It's funny that trying less could be the answer to doing more.