Promoting Passion Week 69: Awaken Your Genius

Promoting Passion Week 69: Awaken Your Genius


How often do you live in madness?

[Transcript of video] I was thinking about Alice in Wonderland and how they not only introduce, but unashamedly applaud crazy individuals. What if we lived in a world where that was also encouraged, where we could be as mad as we like and we were applauded for it. Well, the truth is, that we do live in that world, only it is a world of elitism. We don’t exactly applaud the mad adventures of creative people in all circumstances. It is easy to be labeled weird or strange or written off for prancing around in a nightgown in the middle of the center of Amsterdam (or is that just me?) because craziness without success is often labeled as sad. But if you are crazy, and you follow through with one of your mad plans, and it suddenly is successful either through fame or money, then you are suddenly not crazy at all, but instead you are a genius. And with that genius comes praise and acceptance and a shift of the status quo. The problem here is that many people, myself included, will have ideas that are crazy and will not succeed. We think big and we try our hardest yet still that plan doesn’t find legs, and we find ourselves back at square one. This is a natural phenomenon. This is human nature – to try and fail and try again. Yet with how easy it is to be influenced by social media and the opinions of others, how often do we really try again? How often can we say that we are making our dreams a reality through the repeated failure of said dream?

How often do we put money first, or our family’s security, or the protection of our good name in order to protect what is nice and easy and safe? How often do we blame other people for our dreams not panning out? And it is easy to do this! It is easy to say that it was so-and-so’s fault, that mean person online who told me to give up. But think back to when you were a child and your parent told you to go to bed, and you rebelliously said no. That child didn’t think twice about what was right or wrong, what was safest for him or her. No, no, you simply did what your heart wanted. Why do we lose that? We lose that sense of self because we are taught to abandon it for the betterment of everyone around us. So when Mr. or Mrs. Nobody online, who we do not know at all, tells us to quit for whatever reason they see fit, we tend to listen, because we have been taught to listen. And listen we should! But not to that person. When it comes to following your dream, it is not wise to listen to the naysayer or the person who wants us to be safe. It is important to listen to ourselves, because in our heart of hearts we know what is right and what is true. We know what makes us feel alive. And without that…if we let that slip away…we will be left with a sore heart, too full with dreams to let anything else in. And we go on with what makes us content and we fail one last time.

But what happens when we don’t. What happens when we try again, and we find new ideas to love, and we nourish those ideas until they are so big that we simply must act on them. They cannot be ignored. And they shouldn’t be, because an ignored dream can be felt by everyone around you, and it infects their minds just the same as it rots in your own. When you pursue that dream, you show the world around you that it is okay to be different, to be mad and strange and weird, and it is okay to believe in what makes your heart soar. You prove to yourself that you are worth it. And even further, you change the world by simply not giving up. It is true that people become successful in the eyes of the public because of wealth and status, but that does not make their idea any better or worthy of praise. Your idea, it is very likely, has merit of it’s own. But no one will ever know that if you don’t tell them. And you won’t tell them if you never believe in yourself enough to try.

I photographed my subject in Hawaii in October last year. I had just finished hosting an artist retreat and we stayed on longer to do some personal work and have some R&R. I went to the ocean to photograph this series of images near a dock where I could hold on if need be but where it was also deep enough. My friend and assistant Kelly held on to me so I wouldn’t sink while I was shooting, as we didn’t have any breathing apparatuses. She had to secure her leg on a submerged tire that was attached to the dock and then hold me up, which proved very challenging. Her instruction was simple: hold me up to shoot, and then when our model, Marsha, came up for air, immediately go grab her so she can rest for a moment.

The first little while went really well. The water was pretty clear and we were having a lot of fun. But then some boats started coming in and docking – not at our pier, as it was out of commission (I checked first!) but at a nearby pier. This caused the water to become quite choppy, and since we were near rocks, we decided to get our before it got worse. I swam while holding my camera in my huge ikelite housing and then navigated the slippery rocks out while helping my friends and continuously (per request from Kelly) checking for sea creatures underwater with my camera (I would shoot a few pics to see what we were surrounded by). I did see a couple – an octopus and an eel, but I certainly didn’t tell her that until later. Once we made it out we decided to get back in when the water calmed, and we shot a few more images before calling it a night and drinking a coconut.

Now I desperately want to go back to Hawaii. Oh, to re-live these experiences through photographs is something I do not take for granted, and I can only hope to better document my next adventure.

Model: Marsha Denill
Assistance: Kelly McGrady

4 thoughts on “Promoting Passion Week 69: Awaken Your Genius

  1. Brooke, I love this post. It really hits home to me. I have so many ideas floating around in my head but I don’t believe my friends would understand, especially not my husband who is very practical. It is hard for me to approach someone to model for me and my whacky ideas. I keep wondering if I was younger (I am 43), it may be easier since (in my mind) it is widely accepted that the younger you are, the crazier your ideas.
    So thank you for posting this. These are words I needed to hear. <3

    1. I bet your genius is a childlike spirit, that shows itself no matter your age. Ask vibrantly and with passion, and those who are filled with the same spirit will respond in kind. If ever our paths cross, I’ll be there to help you out with whatever your dream might be at the moment. And if I can help from afar, I most certainly will. My husband is also very practical, and sometimes we clash about ideas, but in the end I think my madness is what is so very endearing to him, or so I tell myself 🙂 If you can make it to the convention I’m hosting we can have lots of playtime and with a few very willing models, too 🙂 Otherwise, I’ll have to conveniently find myself in the same place as you so we can be mad together!

  2. Beautifully put, Brooke! Your video is so inspiring! I’m working on such a HUGE project today, it’s helping to motivate me through the rest of it 🙂

  3. Excellent. For many years throughout my twenties I subconsciously latched on to what I was told as a teenager – after moving countries, continents, I was nervous to begin a new life midway through my high school years, and I remember being told by a teacher in front of everybody that nobody could understand me because of my accent and my nerves making me speak too quickly. It made me terrified to ever speak up in front of anyone ever again, and it resulted in years of all these big ideas held back by fear, and many nights crying, wishing I could have the confidence to let them out into the world. In the last few years I have grown up a bit and realised that it’s a choice to carry that baggage, it’s a choice to blame things on external things, other people, or past experiences, and time is ticking away and we absolutely have control over whether or not those things hold us back or if we go forth and create, take risks, allow our imaginations to roam and wander. That we only have one life and it’s too easy to waste it. Now every moment is a gift to be filled with creativity and I feel like I’m making up for all those silly years, and I love to keep creating.

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