Beauty - A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.
I had a thought earlier this week as I was watching an excerpt from one of my favorite films, "Lost in Translation". The scene is somewhat typical but done in a way that always pulls me in. The two main characters - played by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson - share a tearful goodbye after meeting and spending some brief time together in the city of Tokyo. The each depart and go their separate ways. It's a regretful and somewhat bittersweet farewell. The scene (as well as the film) then ends with shots of Tokyo as the song "Just Like Honey" plays. The credits then roll. It's a scene I have viewed a couple of times before but this time it was a bit different. For some reason, the following phrase crossed my mind:
"That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!"
I was exaggerating a bit. Sure, I was incredibly moved by the scene but if I had a dollar every time those words popped into my head I would have quite a bit of money.
I see beauty in a lot of things.
Films are beautiful, music is beautiful, paintings are beautiful, photographs are beautiful, nature is beautiful, words are beautiful, God is beautiful.
People are beautiful.
It's subjective of course. What I may find to be beautiful you may not and what you find to be beautiful I may not. Nevertheless, we know beauty when we see it and I am sure you are a fan of it.
It's one thing to experience beauty - I come across it all of the time - but to create it is something completely different and it's something that I am constantly striving to achieve.
Most of the time, when I am crafting something, beauty is key. If I don't find myself being moved by a piece of music I've composed or a photo I take then I have not achieved my goal. Yes, it is definitely a challenge, but if I am moved by something, chances are somebody else out there will be as well.
I encourage you to keep the word "beauty" at the forefront of your mind when creating something. After all, most everything The Creator has made is beautiful.
We should follow in His steps.
I came across something else recently that made me exclaim the same phrase I wrote about at the beginning of this post. This time, it was a piece of music. Every once in a while I come across a piece of art that completely sums up how I feel about something. The following piece sums up my thoughts and feelings on beauty.
Keep your eye out for beauty this week and even more importantly, strive to create it yourself.
There are many ideas constantly swirling around in my head. Most of these ideas consist of artistic endeavors such as titles for albums or pieces of music, melodies, topics to write about, film ideas, places I'd like to photograph, etc. Some of these ideas become reality while most others do not.
There has been one idea swirling around in my head for the past year or so and it wasn't until recently that I decided to go for it.
I am going to write a book.
I'll be the first to tell you that I do not necessarily consider myself a writer. Despite a large output of writing since the beginning of the year, I have never found the words I put together to be as strong as the other creative outlets I partake in.
However, I have felt the same way at one point or another about my music and filmmaking abilities. It wasn't until I took the so called "plunge" and really went for it that I began to see my strengths within those creative outlets. I "took the plunge" when creating my first EP, I "took the plunge" when putting together my first documentary, and now I will "take the plunge" again with writing.
I couldn't be more excited.
What the book will be about specifically is going to be kept to myself for now. I have a tentative title in place and a few pages already written. It will be personal and at the same time relatable, like all good books should be. Topics will range from the serious to the humorous and the spiritual to the physical. I want to juxtapose small intimate anecdotes with deep meaningful experiences.
Most importantly, I want this book to be an encouragement to others. Something that I hope has been reflected in this website so far.
The goal right now is to just finish it and if publishing becomes a possibility then you better believe I'll be taking advantage of that.
Nothing is mapped out yet and by the time I am done it might not even resemble what I am currently describing. However, I do know exactly what kind of tone I want it to have. I decided on that when I wrote the following sentences yesterday evening:
It's not much, but it's a start.
It never hit me this week. It didn't emanate from any of my experiences that I had over the last seven days nor was it given to me during the countless hours I spent pondering during my free time.
I am of course talking about inspiration.
Inspiration can be defined as the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. It's an experience like no other and it is as wonderful as much as it is frustrating. It's not something that can be controlled and - for myself - it usually comes in the most unexpected ways.
I can't begin to tell you how many times I've set out to be creative and the spark of inspiration was completely absent. In fact, it's absent more times than not.
I'll sit down to write a piece of music and most of the time I come away with silence rather than sound. I'll try to write something creative or thought provoking and I am almost always left with a blank piece of paper or a blinking text cursor on my computer monitor. I'll spend a day outdoors trying to capture something beautiful on my camera and more times than not I find my memory card filled with bland images that don't provoke a single emotion.
But then there are the times when it strikes. And when inspiration hits me, it hits me hard.
There are moments when I am photographing or filming an environment and every single image appears to be an alluring painting. There are times when I sit down to compose a piece of music and I feel as if I am creating the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard.
I even enjoy the things I write from time to time.
People, places, events, experiences, ideas, thoughts, conversations, and feelings. Inspiration can stem from all of these things
Where does it ultimately come from?
A place of divine nature I am sure.
And now it's hitting me. I was, in fact, inspired this week. My lack of inspiration gave me the spark I needed to write this.
But like every other time, inspiration was given to me when I least expected it.
If you're waiting for it to be given to you, be patient. It'll come to you sooner or later. When it does, I hope it hits you just as hard as it hits me.
It's nice when someone listens. It's even nicer when someone listens intently.
I received an interesting email earlier this week. It was from someone named Andre.
I don't know an Andre.
He told me that he was a writer for a German music blog and that he had stumbled upon my newest album. He wrote a review of it - in German - and asked if I would give it a read.
And so I did.
What follows is the first review someone has written about something I have made. With the help of Google translate and my own limited knowledge of the German language (I studied for a few years in high school) I managed to put together an English translation. The original article can be found here.
The Soundtrack of Life.
We always like to follow our self-imposed mission, to bring talented musicians a little closer to the light of the public. Josh Zimmer is a creative mind who entered the music industry in 2013. With Project Atlantic, the artist from New Jersey creates atmospheric soundscapes, settled somewhere between modern classical and ambient. "Music Inspired by the Motion Picture", the title of his current work, does not contain any soundtrack to an actual film.
The film, on which the title of the album refers, is to be understood as a metaphor for "life" with all its facets. Josh Zimmer has dedicated his songs to people or events that have touched him. The pieces are often instrumentalized with classical instruments, above all the piano. Interlaced with acoustic guitars and electronic nuances, Josh also succeeds in showing an emotional variety. "Music Inspired by the Motion Picture" reveals a sentimental mood.
Stylistically, Project Atlantic does not move in familiar patterns of a genre, even if a lot of inspiration from ambient, classical and folk find their way into the sound structures. These aspects are very clear and pronounced in songs like "ævintýri" or "The Way Things Go", two pieces that capture the "cinematic" sound nicely. Also, "Luminous" or the beautiful piece "I Am Here and so Are You" keep the pace going very well. You will be pleased with the simplicity and accessibility of the pieces, which you clearly notice he puts forth on his project with a lot of passion.
"Music Inspired by the Motion Picture" is not an indicator for music, but the work enchants with the power of expressiveness. For a solo project, you can always find criticisms, perhaps "Transit" with its 8 bit tooting is out of the ordinary, but so be it - many artists express their emotions in their works, Josh with his music. Those who want to purchase the soundtrack of his life can do so under the heading "name your price" on Bandcamp.
You can probably imagine the reaction I had after reading that.
I won't go into any more detail about the review or my thoughts on it but do I want to pose a challenge to you this week. Bless somebody with kind words of encouragement. I don't just mean the usual "good job" or "I like that" compliments that we effortlessly hand out to others. I'm talking about meaningful words filled with substance that real thought has been put into.
And Andre, if you are reading this, thank you.