I'm sure to some, this weeks title is a bit interesting, so bare with me & it will all make sense... eventually 😊
Our last few days in Colorado Springs were definitely full of good times. We visited the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, spent time with family eating good food & playing games & celebrated my son, Lincoln's 3rd birthday. He actually turns 3 this coming Saturday, but I think he was thrilled to have a "Hulk Smash Party" with his Colorado cousins.
The Manitou Cliff Dwellings were a very interesting spot considering the fact that 100 years ago these structures were moved to their current location to be preserved as a museum to honor the Anasazi people that lived in them. They weren't native to the spot they were placed in just outside of Colorado Springs, they actually came from an area near the Four Corners, but they have definitely made their current location a new home & it was amazing to see how the Native Anasazi families could have thrived in this location because the rooms stayed amazingly cool and were very well organized and served specific purposes. I almost got the feeling that these pieces of art could easily be moved into by a family today.
One of the nights before we left I got the opportunity to work with my father-in-law doing voice over work for some friends in Australia. My father-in-law Howard has the perfect narrating sort of voice, & my buddy Pete & I have already started to use him for a few projects. One of the projects we were doing last week is actually for Pete's sister, Karen, who is a photographer & current Adobe artist. When I have a link to share, I will definitely be posting it, but Howard's voice suited the project so perfectly & its always such a fun time working with him.
He's a man that I look up to a lot as a father. The way that he displays patience, resilience, & has such a servant's heart are all attributes that I can only hope to display to my own children one day. And the fact that we are able to do voice over work on the fly because of how easy it is to bring recording equipment with you makes the process both amazing & a bit comical.
In the following picture you'll see that I have my buddy Pete in Australia on FaceTime on my phone, with a headphone from that conversation in one ear, while I'm monitoring audio in the other ear from a headphone connected to a Zoom H4n audio recorded plugged into a Rode Mic Pro that Howard is speaking into. He has a script in his hand & a laptop showing the film he is doing the voice over for in front of him. And to top it off, we are doing this all in his walk-in closet as a make shift studio. The small, quiet space, with his clothes being used to help dampen sound worked out perfectly too!
We finished our week celebrating Lincolns 3rd birthday with his Colorado cousins. He is absolutely obsessed with super heroes at the moment in spite of the fact that he hasn't really watched any sort of super hero movies, but none the less he had an awesome party. This boy is so full of joy & his smile when he was blowing out his candles lit up the room.
We left for a 2 day road trip on Friday, driving from Colorado Springs to Cedar City, then headed to Zion National Park & home to San Diego. I would definitely recommend that drive to anyone with a sense of adventure. But I would also caution parents of toddlers that it's A LOT of time on the road. The amount of stops those with a taste for photography can make heading that way is absolutely ridiculous too. The views through the Rockies heading out of Colorado & into the canyons of Utah were simply stunning. Having a goal in mind to get the kids some proper sleep was definitely a bit torturous at times, but because of the locations of our families I'm sure it's a drive that we will be doing quite a bit over the years, so there will be plenty of opportunities to grab some awesome photographs at even more of the National Parks & sites along the way.
The kids also got a kick out of the landline at the LaQuinta we stayed at in Cedar City. It's pretty amazing how things that were so normal to us growing up, are a bit of a novelty for them now.
One of the last things I wanted to touch on was Chester Bennington. For those that don't know who he is, he is one of the front men of the band named, Linkin Park. This band was HUGE when I was in high school, & in Coast Guard "A" school. Any time I hear their "Hybrid Theory" album, I get transported either back to pre-game warm ups for lacrosse, or driving around with my Coasty buddies in Petaluma, Ca. These were fond memories, however, they are now tainted by the fact that on July 20th of this year, Chester took his own life. He was buried this past weekend & has been on my mind a lot lately.
Chester had one of the most beautifully haunting screams & singing voices of my generation. It was crazy how such an angst filled voice could resonate with such a broad pop audience. He was an undeniable talent & will surely be missed.
I don't only mention him because of the influence his voice had on me & my peers, but because he was a creative & a dad of 6 children. The void those children & the rest of his family, friends, and fans now have will definitely be felt, & it's so sad that he felt he had to go out this way.
I must admit that it has to take a special breed of friend & especially special breed of spouse to be able to deal with us creatives. We are constantly so full of ideas, so full of creativity & often times haunted by some type of pain from our past, that we can be a bit overwhelmed & overwhelming to be around at times. There is often times such a beauty that can come from the art of a creative person who is hurting, & on the flip side there are deep wounds that haunt us & drive us to be great. Sometimes that darkness can sprout from a negative life changing event, or simply teenage angst, but I caution those of you that dare to love us; we can indeed be a handful.
I know that in this social-media driven day & age we can all fall into the trap of comparison, & while I don't know all of Chester's demons, I do know that the industry he was in can be a pretty brutal one. Because of the press & social media we get to see the lives of celebrities on public display & it can't be easy. But what we also see are trends of divorce, drug abuse, & suicide. While the life of a creative can often be used as material for their art, if not dealt with properly it can also be such a wedge between the artist & their loved ones & lead down a very dark road.
A lot of times artists & even athletes can use the negative in their life as inspiration, but sometimes it's a chip on the shoulder, or a dark shadow that they can't seem to shake. Sometimes, creatives can get in their own way, by always thinking their ideas are the best ones. It's why a lot of bands break up. The creative process can sometimes be a messy one, & the more creative people that are involved, the messier it can get.
Again I didn't know Mr Bennington, but as a father I wish he could have fought more. It makes me sad that his demons caught up to him enough to take his own life. It makes me sad, that there was some standard he was comparing himself to that seemed too tough to overcome. Check out some of his most famous lyrics from the song, "Crawling".
"Crawling in my skin, these wounds they will not heal. Fear is how I fall, confusing what is real."
When properly grounded & supported, the creative can find inspiration through pain & use it to create something amazing for us to all enjoy, & Chester did that for years. But the fear finally got to him, consumed him, confused him, and he was in fact convinced that it was too much pressure to take. Those words are so haunting now, and you can hear him crying out for help.
I find that my faith always brings my past mistakes & past hurt into perspective & helps me to focus past the negativity. As I've often heard, social media can be used as a highlight reel to someone's life & you may not know the hurt that they are dealing with outside of what they let you see. So remember that, & dont compare your life to others.
I say all this to encourage those of you out their that could be secretly hurting inside to reach out for help. Find someone to talk to, & don't be too proud or ashamed to do so. My current mountain bike team, Linked Cycling, has been a great group of guys that I've been able to surround myself with that encourage me to be a better husband, father & friend. While this group works for me, it may not work for others, & that's fine. I just encourage you to surround yourself with good people that you can be honest with. There are wounds from my mother-in-law dying of cancer that my wife & I have seen a counselor for in the past & wounds from the divorce of my parents that I am currently seeking counsel for today. Hurt is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something that should be properly dealt with.
I hope this blog is never simply a highlight reel of my adventures with my family & that I can help reveal both the fun & the tough parts of being a creative dad. The reality is, the life of a creative dad can be so rewarding when you feel like you're living up to your potential & you're doing what you love, but the fight for balance in my life is REAL & I am so grateful for a wife that deals with my most ungraceful moments with so much grace. I definitely hope to encourage a community of creative dads to enjoy creating & inspiring each other to be better artists & more importantly, better fathers.
I'll leave you with this one last quote that I hope can inspire you to find joy & to remind yourself to only use comparison as inspiration.