The Art Of…Heart Attacks and Pelicans.

“Mr. Perrin, you are having a heart attack…”  IMG_0638

It was the last week of October, and the last thing I thought I would hear as Nurses and Emergency room technicians scurried around an overweight 42 year old who had spent the better part of the past few years merely existing.

The previous days had seen the continuation of a mundane routine filled out with fried chicken for breakfast, double meat burger for lunch and dinner…and an unhealthy supply of sleepless nights followed by sporadically active moments (this is the understatement of the century) and epic slothfulness, all while plotting to take over the world of photography with general awesomeness from the comfort of a broken down recliner.  What could possibly go wrong?

The morning of my cardio event (general term for a big medical word and classed up, less scary term for ‘Heart Attack’), I came home from my radio news job and decided to lay down because i wasn’t feeling up to par.  About 5 minutes into my routine, I noticed a little pain in my chest.  Not thinking much of it, but remembering countless commercials for warning signs, I decided to head to the doctor to let him check me out.  About half way to his office, I realized that I was not in the best way.  In fact, I was in serious trouble.  I pulled into a hospital here in Lake Charles, which had gone through a recent name change and ownership.  It was called Lake Area Medical Center…and that little hospital SAVED MY LIFE.

I spent 6 days in LAMC‘s ICU…where I received the care and attention normally reserved for heads of state and Arabian prince’s at world renown facilities.  I cannot understate what an amazing staff they have from the Doctors and Nurses, to the Techs, specialists, custodial, and especially the administration.  I’m just a guy who had a heart attack…and they treated me like humans should treat each other.  Respect, Care, and Compassion.

The few months since have been a learning process.  Not necessarily having to relearn life skills…but learning the true meaning of living a life.

I took a few weeks away from the camera.  Away from PerrinStudios.  Away from worry.  Away from existence.  I wanted to learn to live.  I began to look around again…not only at the big picture, but at the small things.

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” –John Lennon.

I found myself, about a month or so ago, picking up my camera again and going down to a boat launch about 4 miles from my house.  I stepped to the back side of the main building to find a few pelicans had decided to chill out after, what i can only assume was an epic pelican party. That’s where I met “Gus”.

gus for mug

“Strangers passing in the street, by chance two separate glances meet..” –Gilmour/Wright/Mason/Waters.

Out of the 15-20 pelicans who were in various states of “chill”…Gus had it right.  Gus had the answer.  This pelican gets me.

What is it about the right moment in time, the right place, right atmosphere, right vibe, that can alter the course of existence and steer one onto the road of living?  Because that’s what Gus and all of his buddies have done for me.  Every weekend since, i’ve found myself…camera in hand…visiting Gus and his posse.  Every weekend, there’s a different angle, different light, different poses, etc…  It’s what has brought life back to me.  As simple as it sounds, a small thing like a pelican chilling out on a dock, has made a difference to me and to my attitude towards life, photography, art, and everything in between.  So, here’s to Gus!!!  I raise a glass of Diet Dr. Pepper to you (since I don’t drink, and since regular Dr. Pepper might end me.).

IMG_7911-2On one of my early trips to visit the ole boy, I found there were a few more Pelican’s hanging about than normal.  Under normal circumstances…and pre late October…I would have decided to head back home because “how many photos can I take of pelican’s chilling out?”  Well, my new desire and love of all things life, kept me around just watching them.  After a short time, a boat pulled up to the dock…the Pelican’s began to stir.  My spidey senses began to tingle.  Something was electric.  Something was about to happen.

A frenzy is the most appropriate description of the Pelican’s reaction to the fisherman who emerged from the boat and began to filet his catch.  I ran to the edge of the dock where 20-30 Pelicans began to frantically fly about, fighting for fish scraps tossed away by the man.  There I was, in the middle of Pelican chaos…and I was smiling and clicking the shutter as fast as my Canon 6D would shoot.  IMG_8669

The result was some of my favorite photographs i’ve  taken.  But the BIG pay off was being a part of something I never thought I would even care about while i was busy just existing.

I’ve been sober for close to four and a half years, and i’m grateful for every second…but it took that late October Myocardial infarction (there’s your $20 word) for me to realize life is more than existence.  It’s to be lived.  And to me, living means taking time to wait for the frenzy.

-Brice.  www.perrinstudios.com

Next up…The Art of…Sol.

PS…Pelicans can be a bit testy.  So, keep safety in mind…ALWAYS.

PS again…Almonds and Yogurt.  Yes please!

**All images copyright PerrinStudios.  Reproduction without permission is forbidden.**

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The Art Of…Heart Attacks and Pelicans.

The art of being still.

…for me, it’s about slowing down.

blue stone close

I saw a Facebook post today with a link to a story about a new, faster way to tie your shoelaces.  Needless to say, it got my brain thinking.  Has life really gotten so fast, rushed, and in a hurry, that we need a faster way to tie our shoelaces???

I remember a time when, if you wanted to get cash from your checking account, you had to either go into the bank and wait in line or, sit in the drive thru.  Now, all we have to do is drive to the nearest ATM…and even then, it takes too long!!  So, yeah…i guess Brooks was right…”The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.”

Over the past 3 plus years, i’ve had to teach myself to slow down.  I had to…it was a must…the hurried, worried life was consuming me and slowly killing me with aggravation, frustration, and anger.  What I found was amazing!!  Slowly, I discovered that there was a whole different world out there that I had completely missed out on for 38 years.  And who woulda thunk that world could be entered simply by being still.

stillness in a hurry

One of the things I struggled with, was the fact that it was OK to be still…to stop…to look around…to not just hear and see the quiet…but to really listen and look at it.  It was not just a struggle, but an outright blood bath fight between my ego, which says “what you are doing/going/wanting is too important so, hurry hurry hurry or you’ll miss something you don’t have yet”, and my Soul which was screaming “is what you are doing/going/wanting really that damn important?”  I’m grateful that the Soul had an awesome left hook.

Being still has taught me one important fact…and it is this…”in the grand scheme, it‘s not that important, whatever “it” is.”  All those “it‘s” can drag us to the depths of the grand oceans of frustration, fear, and anger…when, not if, we let them.

“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape one hundred days of sorrow.” –Chinese Proverb.  

between a rock and a hard place.

For me, art is a great tool in the “being still” process.  Wether it’s a photograph, painting, poem, book, music, etc…Art has the ability to flip the worry and anger switch to off.  But, we have to be willing to let stillness into our house.

I mentioned earlier that I had to teach myself to be still.  It’s amazing to look back and see “what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now”…and think, “damn, why didn’t I try this stillness thing years ago!!!”  Well, our ego thrives on frustration, fear and anger…so, I had to be taught, by Something Greater than me, this new alien concept.  My ego would never have just let it happen.

The tools I started using early on to slow down are all around this amazing world.  And they’re simple.  Sitting quietly and watching a bird, looking at the leaves on a tree move to the rhythm to the wind, looking at a big, goofy, puffy cloud move slowly across the sky…changing in every moment as it does, watching raindrops hit a puddle.  All are simple things we can do in any moment.  All bring stillness.  And all are free to everyone.  The only thing you need…is willingness to let the stillness in.

life giving.

Same goes for using art as a tool in being still.  Last night, I found myself on my front porch, headphones on, listening to Eric Johnson’s “Venus Isle” album, while looking at stunning landscape photographs on my tablet.  It was peaceful.  It was spiritual.  It was just what I needed.  And my soul was still content this morning when I stepped outside to look at and listen to God’s new morning.  Those small moments in a 24 hour day, can and will do amazing things to your mind, heart, and soul.  They will give you peace.  They will give you serenity.  They will open a new world.  They will destroy frustration, fear, and anger.

Try this… keep a beautiful photograph, or a peaceful piece of music, or your favorite chapter or poem from a book…keep them with you where you can easily access any of them.  When frustration, fear, and anger creep up, stop for a moment.  Look and listen to any one of them.  Then sit quietly for 5 minutes.  It’s a victory for the soul.  And…it works.  It really does.

out of the woods.

I recently looked at some photographs I took before I found stillness.  They are rushed, uncreative, dull, mundane, some even give off a frustrated look.  Kinda sounds like life in general, today, eh?  I never had the patience to slow down and compose a shot, or to shoot in manual mode, or to even think about putting a little blue stone on a boulder for a shot.  Slowing down was not a concept I had time for.  But, now, slowing down is one of the most vital parts of each set of 24 hours i’m Blessed with.  It has freed my mind, relaxed my heart, and opened up my soul.

Give yourself a gift.  Be still for a moment.  You have plenty of time…there’s 24 hours in a day. Besides, how many of the “it‘s” will you miss if you are still for a moment?  Hopefully, all of them.  Our egos will hate us…and our soul’s??  Well, our soul’s already love us…we just needed to be still to feel it.

-Brice

The art of being still.

The art of gratefulness, memories…and Turkey.

Open Road

This time, next week, my wife and I will be enjoying time with her sister’s family and her father and his wife.  There is little doubt that we will all be stuffed, bloated, and a tad lazy…but then again, that’s exactly what the day after Thanksgiving is supposed to be!!!  And I can’t WAIT!!!

I’ve always loved this time of year.  My favorite memories growing up are of the times when my family would all gather at Thanksgiving, then again at Christmas.  There was laughter and tears (mostly my tears because I was being a little brat and not getting enough attention…or not getting my way.  Call it “only child syndrome”).  There was cooking, games, football, crude jokes (that’s just how we rolled in the Perrin/Allison/McKinney Clan), crazy aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, mom and dad…and me.  And we all had stories to tell.  Gut busting, painfully funny stories.

All those great times are stored in the great memory bank i’ve been blessed with…shocking that it’s still intact after all these years and after all the damage I did to it over 24 plus years of addiction.  After finally getting sober a little over 3 years and 2 months ago (which is still done one day at a time), I found that God’s Gift of a good memory had, in fact, been left mostly intact.

The small change

It’s been quite a journey for the past 3 plus years in sobriety.  I’ve learned a lot about gratitude…and an appreciation for not only the big things in life, but the smallest things.  In the past, I would have NEVER thought to take time to stop and look at the lines in a leaf, or a blade of grass, or take enough time to slow down to watch a hummingbird land.  The latter of which helped begin my spiritual journey of recovery when I was in treatment at New Beginnings at Lake Charles in late August / early September 2011.  It’s this 11th month…the month of Thanksgiving, that reminds me to be thankful, re: grateful, on a daily basis for those small things.  It’s something that, in this busy, crazy world we live in…is easy to look past, or forget to do altogether.  So, I’m going to pass along something i’ve learned…something that helps me…something I need to do more of.  It’s simple.  Ready?  Slow down and just look.  

simple

Back to that mostly intact memory God Blessed me with…As I mentioned at the beginning of this entry, my wife and I will be heading to her family next week for Thanksgiving.  We will be continuing to create our new memories which will be placed right next to all my childhood memories.  They all intermingle on this grand road of life…which is never a straight road.  And that’s another thing i’m thankful for.  Every curve i’ve encountered, every pothole, every uneven pavement on this road of my life…i’m truly grateful for God placing me on it.  It’s the road He chose for me…good and bad.  I’m grateful just to be able to walk down it.  It helps to have a wonderful wife, family and friends traveling with you, too!

IMG_1750

Memories in our mind are always at the ready for a quick recall.  But, sometimes a visual not only enhances that memory, but will help create a new one.  Above, I wrote about the laughter of family at Thanksgiving and Christmas…well, a lot of that laughter is brought about by looking at old pictures and the stories that are attached to the faded images in the aging hands of an elder relative.

This holiday season, millions and millions of photographs will be taken across the world by individuals, families, tribes, clans, organizations, etc…regardless of religion, creed, country, government, lines on a map, etc…of a special time with people who care for one another getting together in laughter and cheer.  Memories will be made.  And, years from now, an elder’s hand will point to an image…a story will be told…a new memory will be made.  The cycle, thankfully, will continue.

IMG_7182_3_4

This holiday season, we at PerrinStudios, would like to be part of helping you make new memories.  For portraits, party photography, weddings, special events…email info@perrinstudios.com.  We also offer a number of our photographs as prints and can print from 4×6 up to 20×30 on paper, metal, and canvas.  email info@perrinstudios.com for pricing and to inquire about our artist reserve prints.  You can also reach us by phone at 337-304-5599.

Now that the self-promotion is over…i’ll leave you with this…

I’m going to eat turkey Thursday.  A lot of it.  And a lot of cookies and pie.  I will be a bloated animal on Friday.  I will not move much.  I will be a sloth.  I will consume mass quantities and be a sloth.  I will wear stretchy pants.  I am ok with that.  That is all.

-Brice

The art of gratefulness, memories…and Turkey.