TODAY NICARAGUA (By: Peter Schaller, Elephantjournal) It’s 4 a.m. and I can’t resist the urge to jump out of bed. I putter around the house a bit, put some coffee on, and scratch a quick note to my kids: “Gone to the beach, back later.”
They will figure out how to get breakfast.
I’m in the car, cruising down a black highway before the sky begins to split open with first evidence of day. It’s Sunday morning, so there is very little stirring along the way. On the hour drive, I can’t stop thinking about the light, hoping that my calculations of time and distance have been accurate.
I have been dreaming (awake) about the old pier in Masachapa for weeks.
A huge section of the pier collapsed into the sea during some hurricane or other, leaving it with an impossibly seductive appeal of broken lines and fallen grace. It is a severely under-appreciated landmark on the stretch of Pacific Coast, due west from Managua, and I feel compelled to reveal its glory.
Like so many things in Nicaragua, the pier is a reminder of some better day—before Somoza, before the earthquake, before the Sandinistas, before the hurricane.
The sun is not yet over the trees when I get to the coast. I throw my backpack on, kick off my shoes and hurry down the beach. In Masachapa, the colorful fishing boats are just pulling in with the morning’s catch. Bare chested men haul baskets and buckets of fish from their boats, displaying them in the impromptu market, as the first customers arrive at the shore. The air and water are full of seagulls, vultures, pelicans and hundreds of other flying scavengers.
I finally reach the pier just as the sun peaks over the tree line, falling gracefully on the dilapidated structure. And then…I am gone.
Without anything resembling conscious thought, I am up, down, on top, underneath, on my back, on my stomach, over the edge, pausing only for minor adjustments to aperture and shutter speed. There is a whole universe of light, shadow, water, texture, birds, color, angle, perspective.
When I finally come up for air, I check the time on my cell phone and it seems that some three hours have passed since I lost touch. While this all might seem like some type of artistic masturbation, this is what I call creation meditation.
Meditation does not have to be a static activity. We don’t necessarily have to remain silent and still to meditate.
In simple terms, meditation is the art of existing entirely and appreciating fully—the moment.
What better way to revere the moment than through creation? Making art, after all, is just a way to emulate nature. Nature is creation and all creation begins in nature. Creation meditation is the process of giving ourselves over completely to the natural process in our own creative energy.
Many of us might feel intimidated by art, if we are not among the chosen few who were born with some extraordinary, natural talent. However, we don’t need any unusual abilities to make art, other than those of focus and concentration.
When I begin to make any piece of art, I always think about leaves. To me, it is absolutely mind blowing how a tree can create leaves, day after day, with perfect shape, color and size! Nothing I could ever create could be nearly as impressive as the simplicity of a tree making a leaf. That helps to take the ego out of art and to simply create something in nature’s honor.
We can all create art, focusing intently on the creative process, so that it also becomes a meditative practice.
Granted, photography is an expensive art form (I know all too well, because last year all of my equipment was stolen), but art does not have to be expensive. We can also make art from found and recycled materials (cardboard, paper, driftwood, scrap wood, plastic bottles, leaves, rocks, burnt matches).
The only thing that really matters is the creative process, not the product. When we create art, it really doesn’t matter what it looks like in the end, as long as the process of creation itself brings us closer to nature and closer to ourselves.
So, what do I have after this creation meditation session? Nothing much—no one asked me to take the pictures, and I will not be selling them for any income. I will select, edit, post a few and enjoy sharing my re-creation of the pier, and the natural elements that make it so irresistibly attractive, with friends and family.
What I have gained, though, is an enormous sense of peace and relaxation.
For those three hours, I did not think about work, bills to be paid or any number of distractions that can swipe my peace and balance. In all honesty, I don’t think I could sit and meditate for three hours, but meditative movement through creativity transcends the obstacles of time.
Nature is creation. Creation is meditation.