Several months ago, I quit posting on social media in real time. With the exception of the occasional quick Instagram Story (which require the least amount of my time and creativity), I pretty much stopped doing it. I’ve let way too many delicious dishes get cold and I’ve been the bullseye of targets which angry side-eyes from companions were aimed due to real-time social posting. I decided that I would still take photos, but post them later. It could be later that same day or sometime the next day, or in a week (shout out to #tbt)… but never in the “moment.” Cold food and annoyed friends are only a small part of why I don’t do it anymore.
One day, I was sitting in the corner of one of my favorite Atlanta coffee shops. I took my signature photo… those of you who know me well, know it well: my coffee next to my journal or my computer (or both). I got all prepared to craft a post about how much I love writing in this place “and you would to” (blah blah blah)… but I stopped. I stopped because I noticed something. I noticed the coffee shop. From that corner, I had a spectacular view of the entire establishment. Now, mind you, I love this place! It’s cute and quirky with amazing natural light… but that day it was like I was seeing it for the first time. I’d been here many times before… but I never experienced it. I put my phone down and opened my journal to a blank page.
Inspiration often comes to me uninvited and at the most inopportune times. I get angry when I can’t do anything about it. There are also times (though few and far between) where I seek it out. I leave my house with the intent to explore and meet up with Inspiration for a playdate. Yet in situations like that day in one of my favorite places, inspiration is overflowing and what do I do? I keep my focus narrowly on what can only be seen through the lens of my iPhone camera. I write only what I think will be “popular” and what I think short attention spans can handle.
It was a habit… almost a ritual to broadcast where I was, what I was doing, what I was eating, and who I was with as it was happening. Being so wrapped up in the perfect filter, a cleverly crafted caption, and appropriate visibility-inducing hashtags… I was missing what was happening. My senses completely dulled… numbed, in fact.
Sitting in that corner, blank page ready, and pen in hand, I opened myself (and my senses) to “experience.” And also to a new exercise in my creative practice.
Now, when I go somewhere… familiar or unknown, I submerge myself in it. I want to tell its story. Not a retelling of its history, per se, but telling the story I am present for. The memoir of the time I spent “wallflowering” letting my eyes fall on every square inch in my field of vision. Soaking up atmosphere with all five senses. To fixate on a peculiar character whose appearance and demeanor draw in my curiosity like a moth to a flame. We may never speak, but we will have a conversation. Every facial expression, hand gesture, and sip from a coffee cup will whisper the tale to my imagination. Joy comes from wondering just how close I am to the truth. It’s possible I may let on how good the food is or if the chairs are comfortable. But only if that part of the story wants to be told.
“Wallflowering” has become one of the ways I honor my creative spirit and commit to my craft. To take myself on an adventure, observe, and capture all that I experience. It also has opened me to explore different avenues of creative expression. To not confine myself to just one way of storytelling. Sharing is optional and will come later… if at all. And when it does, the form it takes might surprise you.
Click HERE to read the wallflowering experience from the coffee shop.
Have you ever tried Wallflowering?
I will be sharing a few of mine here but while you wait, there’s a fantastic example in one of my favorite movies, Under the Tuscan Sun. It’s also an example of how your experience is unique and not necessarily meant for everyone else. As Seth Godin once said, “The art is yours… the reaction belongs to them.”
(note: start the video at 0:37)