It is a wonderful thing to witness and experience things that inspire us - but it is another level of wonderful to see those things be birthed out and produced anew in the form of our own creativity - that is, if we have the gusto to actually take the step of transforming our inspirations into creations of our own interpretations. I have never considered myself an artist, but as I've been gathering people's stories for my podcast, fostering my own community through friendships, family, and church, and exploring the various "culture" in places, people, history, and (more recently with my new job), brands, I am blown away by the knowledge and the perspective that we have accessible to us and what it could mean for the things we're capable of creating. In fact, I'm finding it is less about having the time and space of creation than it is about adopting the mere mindset of believing that we can which produces the best and most authentic results. And sometimes, the best creations are for no particular purpose apart from simply exercising our free will to interpret situations and experiences with our own flair - a right we've all been given in this world.
Recently, I was strangely reflecting tonight on a place I visited in May of 2015, called Cherbourg-Octeville, a city in France, on the tip of what is called the "Contentin Peninsula" in the North of the country. I'm not sure why this came to mind, as I only spent one night in this town almost four years ago, but something about it was special for me that resurfaced in my mind.
As a small backstory, I was on a roadtrip with two of my friends from Paris, on our way to see the legendary "Mont St. Michel" and we decided to extend our trip by staying over in a hostel, in what happened to be Cherbourg-Octeville. We had decided on our way to the castle, that we wanted to travel the furthest North we possibly could in France (which we ended up doing the next day, stopping in a town called 'Auderville'). Cherbourg-Octeville was by chance our place of rest and we weirdly all thought the city was a little spooky. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures from this night to paint a better picture, but see below a picture from our journey to Auderville the following day:
Arriving in Cherbourg-Octeville the night former to this photo, the city was dead quiet, slightly chilly, and seemingly vacant. Only locals were around and they looked at us as if we stuck out like sore thumbs, and the Atlantic (in its expression as the English Channel) produced a somber and thick fog - which complimented the appearance of the town fittingly. As a side note, I do not know if this quaint city is always like this, but the time and the day made it so in my memory.
Now, the funny thing about this seaside French city is that is was actually one of the first stopping points of the Titanic, before it traversed further out into the ocean to meet its demise. We quickly discovered this, as all throughout the small city there were accolades to it being a part of this historic event in human history. The strange thing, I thought, was that this was possibly the only thing the town identified itself as. The people didn't seem to have a strong sense or desire to recreate what this city meant to them beyond this. I had never heard of the place before, and maybe that is because I'm not French, but something about the ambiance of the place solidified the idea in my mind that it wished to remain in anonymity. That people could stop by or pass through, and just be okay with the idea that this town was a stopping point of the Titanic, and that that alone was interesting and sufficient to continue to move on from there.
There's probably a large mix of variables that dictates what lives on as story, what legacies take root in future generations, and what continues to inspire when time moves on. A lot of it has to do with what it spoken or remembered; what we've decided we anchor ourselves in, that continues to live on strongly - but in the process of this large-scale "remembering", we push under the rug so much knowledge that can be lost or warped in the process. We can selvedge this loss by seeking out people that are outside of our usual reach, however, and uncover much of what would otherwise be missing or divided information.
Reflecting on 2018, I feel like I lived a vast conundrum of experiences that all had different flavours to them. I was bold, I travelled a ton, I made sure my ties were secure in past friendships and new friendships, I pursued my dreams without apology and with some risk, and I feel as though in 2019 - my duty is to create from these lived moments. Only I will live the life I have, and as I uncover new and unique discoveries - whether its a vast and weakly founded thought on something like the lost culture in Cherbourg-Octeville and why the town might be as it is today, or larger world-influencing thoughts like learning the intricacies and limitations of cultural influence on religion and worldview from visiting Russia, or making the connection between death and secret knowledge in Sierra Leone - or even something simple like finding out what really caused my heart to break when I witnessed an event, or why I feel a certain way when I'm engaging with a brand or a foreign language, it is up to me to chronicle, explore, and create something from these lived moments. I don't want them to get lost or stuck in time, only being a memory, like the city of Cherbourg-Octeville was to me that night in 2015.
I wanted to end this post with some highlights that I've garnered myself and that friends have also shared with me over the course of 2018:
- Being able to attend CES 2018 and network in the technology and startup worlds.
- Deciding to invest in my faith community and take the step towards something deeper by doing the Freedom curriculum, which allowed me to face a lot of myself I had pushed aside.
- Attending events and meeting new and exciting influential people and getting to represent who I thought I was and learning what that meant.
- Launching my podcast project after years of considering it and being too afraid and uncertain to take the plunge. Seeing the impact it made and having opportunities from government and entertainment and education come to me with minimal promotion.
- Reconnecting with old friends in Vancouver, supporting current friends in marriage, being spontaneous with my best friend and roadtripping to Portland with two days notice, maintaining strong ties in the country I love, France, and seeing new places in Egypt and Turkey.
- Growing and surprising myself by pursuing a new relationship and pursuing a new career path.
- Leading a small group and hearing feedback about how it influenced big decisions for people that attended. I knew I was to do that for a reason and just now I am hearing the fruits.
Some highlights from others:
- "Quand tu es venu à Paris"
- "Interviewing me for my documentary! The pre-interview was rad and the time you gave to the project was a highlight for me."
- "Sitting down and getting to know you."
- "My first communion was in your small group."
- "Feeling supported by you when I felt like no one else noticed."
Bring on 2019. May it be a year of creation, investment, and more fruitfulness.
Thanks for reading!
- j o s i a h