A Man Walks Up to a Bird

A man walks up to a stranger and asks, “Can you fly?” The stranger replies, “Are you crazy? Of course I can’t fly! I don’t have wings. I’m much too heavy and, even if I could fly, I’ve got much more important things to do than fly around all day.” Puzzled, the man walks on until he meets a bird and asks, “Can you fly?” Bewildered, the bird replies, “Oh course I can fly. Can’t you?”

If this seems like a strange little story to you… well, it did to me too. Yet that’s what popped into my head yesterday afternoon while walking around the Granary Building in downtown Guelph, Ont., to test-drive my new Nikon A900 camera. The song of a cardinal caught my attention from a distant tree, and as I encountered more birds, something beneath it all slowly wove its way into my head.

Each of us has a different view of what flying means:

  • Escaping the seeming bonds of some crappy job
  • Leaving some unhealthy relationship
  • Rising beyond cultural, racial or sexual discrimination
  • Transcending physical or mental “disabilities”
  • Unfettering yourself from what others say you “should” be doing

Yet there would appear to be a constant that applies to everyone.

While any number of people are only too happy to tell you that flying is impossible and even crazy and irresponsible, there are an equal number of people (and fellow creatures) who’ve never even considered that you CAN’T fly.


cardinal

mourning dove

robin

starling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography Note: Even though this sounds like a product plug, I’ll take a second to gush anyway about the new Nikon Coolpix A900 camera (in case you’re considering buying one).

As a travel-size camera that delivers crisp 20MP images with its low-light CMOS image sensor, the A900 packs a super telephoto NIKKOR glass lens with 35X optical zoom — and 70X digital zoom. As someone who takes a lot of nature shots, the combined portability of the camera with an optical zoom was the main reason why I bought the camera, but the perks include full manual control, 4K HD video recording, Wi-Fi and SnapBridge, plus a fully tilting LCD screen. There’s no viewfinder and the screen isn’t touch-sensitive. Yet the camera controls are simple to use and conveniently at thumb’s reach, and as one who spent a long time using a Samsung Galaxy touch-screen camera, I personally found the button controls a relief to use (especially in glaring sunlight conditions that make LCD screens very hard to see).

Here’s to the Doodlers and Daydreamers on Family Day

doodle xristopher bland abm creativeDo you sometimes dream of things more fantastic than what you see in everyday life? I think we all do this, however cautiously or fleetingly, and I suppose daydreaming can be characterized by doodling—those little drawings penciled or penned along the margins of tests or other evaluations of a person’s ability to understand “how life is.”

If such tests reflect simple, innate human fear of the unknown and the rather pitiable idea of a status quo, doodling would seem to reflect the wonderful, equally innate human disposition to dream, to expand, to look toward the fences of “how life is” and say, “You know. I believe there’s something beyond that.”

Without such daydreaming doodlers, we’d likely not have the light bulb, the radio or cars. We’d likely still be sitting around fires, disconnected from one another while living our lives in and around the villages we were born in, and little would change because that would be “how life is.” (And we’d have tests to make sure we didn’t think differently.) There’d only ever be unrealized potential, ghosting around us like ephemeral mist, and potential may be the greatest quality of every single thing on Earth.

In each breath, movement, thought, word and doodle, the vast and endless realm of human potential shows itself, as it has with every generation—evidenced by what to me is one of the greatest treasures I ever could have hoped to find.

While sorting through some old, inherited papers from my late uncle Doug’s estate, I came across some of his school exams from 1938 (one year before the Second World War began). It seemed a miracle that the fragile papers had survived inside a mouldy wooden box for 77 years, but more miraculous was the pure contrast of what I found.

While the exams themselves (and Doug’s answers to them) reflected the fences of “how life is,” Doug’s doodles outside those fences (or, beyond the margins) were reflections of him staring at that fence and saying, “No, I believe there’s more out there.” Even if the doodles were the result of boredom, it amounted to the same—a desire for something more, shot into the universe like a thought-rocket. And perhaps he never saw the return of such rockets in concrete form in his life. Perhaps he just later head off to war (inset picture), saw the abysmal horror of “how life is” and just wound down his days living in contrast to what he definitely didn’t want in his life—or anyone’s life. Yet by the launching of thoughts toward a different world as doodler and daydreamer, Doug and thousands like him arguably set the matrix of the universe in motion toward “how life is” now, where we do have fanciful geometric pavilions and tramways running through them, where the world has never again been at war, and where fences have come down.

Sure, there’s still intolerance, bullying, ignorance, hatred, fear and more that can’t possibly be called a fundamental human desire. Yet as the word evolution denotes an ongoing state, we’d perhaps all do well—even for a day—to just set that all aside and give thanks this Family Day to past and present families and friends, who doodled and dreamed beyond the margins, who didn’t buy into “how life is” as a fixed and unchanging reality, who cast their thoughts into a responsive universe and effectively made us colonists upon birth to the better world they’d imagined.

Half-World

half world abm creative xristopher bland 1152016Have you ever wondered where inspiration comes from? I wondered about this as a teenager. Long ago in a distant land called the 1970s—long before the idea of the universe speaking to us, Abraham or the notion that our higher selves simply flow back to us—I had the idea that it worked something like this:

There was a place connected to Earth yet invisible to the people living there. In form, it looked like an island. On this island lived people of every artistic brilliance: painters, potters, weavers, thatchers, carvers, bakers, musicians and more who made up the full spectrum of creativity. These people—innocent and untainted—were forever creating for the pure love of it. Yet they could never visit Earth to share their creations. So they caused their creations to manifest in the minds of people on Earth, who came to attribute such moments as being in touch with the spirits (or, inside the spirits). So the word “inspired” was born. Yet in those moments of inspiration, people were really half-worlders—half living on Earth and half living in the other place, not invisible but simply existing as an alternate dimension.

I first wrote this idea as a one-page story called “The Silent Island” on a sheet of paper that I still have today. I thought I might expand the idea into a book one day. Yet as time went on, I also felt the idea might make an interesting musical framework for an album of rock opera. As such things were well beyond my skill at the time, I filed the story away for future consideration and forgot about it until the winter holidays of 2015.

I was drawing in my studio when one fantasy-landscape sketch after another began rushing out of me. At first, I thought I was working on a new ad to promote my graphic services. Yet as lead and ink coursed across blank pages, I sensed there was something else at work within me. Some larger world was speaking to me through a sudden desire to explore graphical landscapes, photo-realistic image creation and green-screen techniques. I chatted with my partner Mary Beth about what was happening and slowly it dawned on both of us.

That long-ago story was still speaking to me and asking to come out under the name Half-World. So I decided this morning to create this quick image, re-purposed from its original incarnation as an ad for the December issue of Starlight Music Chronicles magazine. In doing this, I’m doing something practical. I’m creating a record of having used the spelling “Half-World” first as the name of a creative work. The other spellings (“Half World” and “Halfworld”) have already been used in other creative works, whereas “half-world” (with the hyphen) only finds general usage as an adjective. Yet more importantly than mundane practicality, I’m setting an intention this morning to finally and fully let Half-World come out.

I don’t know what it will look like in final form. Perhaps it will become that rock opera. Perhaps it will become an art show or graphic novel. Or perhaps I don’t need to know at the moment. Though I’ve created much over the years, I’ve been like many in killing a lot of creativity along the way by over-thinking things and mangling myself in practicality. So I’m not going to do that now. I’m just going to let this world flow out of me, creating each piece as it presents itself and staying focused on those pieces until they’re ready to show me how they all come together. I’m going to trust this, and when that world is finally ready to appear before this world, I’ll happily open the doors to everyone.

Until then, I’ll continue posting other things here as they speak, and hope your own worlds richly speak to you every day.

Xris


Copyright © 2016, Xristopher Bland for abmCreative. All rights reserved. Contact abmcreativeservices@gmail.com.

Starlight Dreams (SMC Magazine Ad)

abm ad in SMC december issue 2015I’m kind of floating today—much like the island floating within the pages of Starlight Music Chronicles’ freshly released December issue. As my first-ever full-page magazine ad, the image wasn’t planned as a personal emulation of SMC, its content and editorial vista. Yet after enjoying the magazine’s latest collection of artist interviews, fashion features, tributes, reviews and more, I can see how the image is aligned with SMC’s larger vision of community connected by the incredible richness and power of music.

All helmed by Editor Candice Marshall, SMC’s skilled and spiritual center, I can see how it all points readers out there, just a bit more beyond the horizon, saying we are stardust, we are golden, and by whatever grace with which we imbue ourselves, we’ve somehow, fantastically found our way back to a new garden where the wandering can come peaceably to rest under starlight.


Ad image copyright © 2015, Xristopher Bland for abmCreative. All rights reserved. Contact abmcreativeservices@gmail.com.

ABM Debuts in SMC Magazine

rend interview starlight music chronicles abm creativeI’m so thrilled today to be aboard Starlight Music Chronicles’ online magazine, which debuted this morning on issuu.com. As a regular contributor of interviews and reviews to SMC since its inception some months ago as a website, I was lucky enough to chat with Carol-Lynne Quinn, lead vocalist for the Edmonton-based alt-rock band Rend (@RENDMUSIC), for a two-page feature called “Rend: The Skin and Bones of Their Music and Message.” As a visually stunning magazine helmed and produced by SMC founder and Editor Candice Marshall (arguably the hardest working woman in rock journalism), SMC magazine is a virtual screen capture of all that’s contemporary, engaging and exciting in music, and I’d definitely urge you to check it out.

Are you a musician or band with an upcoming release? Have you already released material that you’d like reviewed? Drop me a line at abmcreativbeservices@gmail.com with links to your website or track site (e.g. SoundCloud). Or send along an MP3. (I promise it’ll go nowhere beyond my own laptop.) I’m always interested in hearing new artists and possibly writing about their work.

 

Stage One Completion of the Soon-to-Be-Reopened Candy Factory Studio!

Candy Factory Reno Stage 1 CompletionIt’s been a hard day’s reno, beginning some weeks ago with tear-out, wall prep and priming, and continuing straight through the weekend to today with top-to-bottom painting, furniture repair and much vacuuming. However, I’m happily exhausted today in the completion of stage-one renovations for the reopening of the Candy Factory Studio. There’s still much to do in terms of cabling computer equipment back up, setting up my drawing table and moving back in all the requisite art supplies. And I still have to hang bolts of black backdrop cloth for video. Yet I’m excited as I look ahead to new beginnings—to a dedicated, comfortable studio space in which to write, create graphics, shoot video and produce a whole new chapter of the Radio Xrisville podcast—and I can’t wait to get started.