Words and Images by David Finley
A lone man raises from his crouch as a sentinel amidst a garden blanketed in the petals of cherry blossoms. Concentration has bolted his eyes shut, his body inanimate. A calloused and colorless finger begins to trace the worn and engraved bone handle of his sword as his ears decode the wind's secrets. A dry twig calls out in barely audible alarm as it snaps. Slowly he turns. His oyster shell eyelids reveal two keen black pearl eyes.
The lone man's sword screams in shrill anguish as it leaves its home, becoming the wind itself. There is blood, so much blood... and dirt.
The garden sleeps in silence once more.
|"The Samurai" digital- David Finley|
Ninjas Get All the Attention
The 1980's were the decade of my childhood. Then, ninja movies seemed to pour out of Hollywood like a fountain. For some reason, with the exception of four mutated turtles most of those ninjas were American and weren't assassins of stealth like the historical version born from the shadows of feudal Japan. Instead, they were blue eyed white-bread karate guys in ninja suits with American flag headbands, who existed for the sole purpose of kicking the Russian's asses.
Did you know a throwing star can plug a tank barrel and down a helicopter? Me either.
As I reached adolescence, I can't tell you how disappointed I was to learn that ninjas weren't heroes at all. Instead, the Samurai should have been the hero of choice. Samurai lived by Bushido, a moral code emphasizing virtue. They were disciplined, diligent, and would enter battle without fear of death no matter the odds.
Become a Samurai
You don't become a Samurai overnight. It is years of constant hard work. Swinging a sword without cutting yourself is hard. And, it's much the same for most any profession worth pursuing. In my case it's art and writing.
I'll confess, there are times in my life when I've waited for inspiration, and waited for someone to "discover me". I enjoy fantasizing about what might be. Fantasies are wonderful because they bring us pleasure without the sacrifice and hard work that life requires. In the last few years, I've learned, mostly the hard way, that the only way to accomplish your dreams is to actually start doing them. For me that means drawing, painting, or writing almost every day whether I want to or not, and whether I have any actual ideas or not.
So, I will blog like a samurai. I will draw, paint, write, and conceptualize like a samurai. My brush is my katana. Everyday will be another step closer to what I'm trying to accomplish. When creative opposition or writer's block comes my way, I will wade into the fray without fear.
I encourage you, my scofflaw friends, to do the same. Raise your brush, your guitar, your ballet slipper, your keyboard: whatever your samurai sword might be, and boldly fight the nagging fears, the procrastination urges, and the creative depression that would seek to stop you.
Don't worry about being brilliant overnight. Don't wait for the big ideas or perfect scenarios before you start. Just go for it. Do the work. Do it right now.
I close this article with a quote from the brilliant artist, Chuck Close, who sums up the whole concept perfectly.
“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.
If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you.
If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”- Chuck Close
Thanks for reading!
Dave, Grand Poobah of the Haven for Scofflaws