My creative lesson 9 — The muse on the train

1 March, 2020

Creativity is a two-way street.

Nietzsche said that if you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss will eventually stare back at you. The Christians say that if you knock, a door will be opened and there is a Jewish mother-in-law joke that says if your mother-in-law looks for dust, she will find it 😀.

And this week I learnt that if you have creativity on the brain, strange portals can open up for you.

I do not know it is because I am constantly writing words, messing around with functions, taking my 52frames photo and looking at my fellow photographers’ photos but I find myself constantly on the lookout for the unusual and doing my best to be as creative as I can. And it is starting to have an effect on me.

Or maybe I should just admit that I had a supernatural experience?

It happened last week on my commute to work. I was on the packed express train which means standing room only. And not mere casual standing about, waiting for a seat to become available.

No, it was more like “don’t exhale too much, imitate a sardine” standing room. The train was so packed that people were even sitting squashed together on the stairs of our double-decker train.

The free Wi-Fi was particularly wonky that day and my writing app on my cell phone was not cooperating at all. Eventually I just closed my cell phone and looked around me.

Nearly everyone was wearing black (Israelis love black in the winter because it makes us look like elegant Europeans) but there were also some soldiers in uniform. I was standing near the door and had a nice upwards view of the people sitting on the stairs. Their dark clothes and the deep shadows created by the small stairwell made it a somber and serious scene.

As the train moved along the tracks, the winter sun flickered through the windows and lit up the lightest part in the stairwell — the people’s faces. I caught on and off glimpses of their tired and introspective faces. I have never seen a commuter with a smiling face. Most were busy with their phones, others were resting with their eyes closed and one soldier kept looking up to me as I was staring at them.

It was an amazing scene, reminiscent of a Rembrandt painting or Van Gogh’s “Potato Eaters”. I was so captivated that it didn’t even cross my mind to whip out my phone to capture it.

At first I thought that the scene caught my eye because I was thinking of the 52Frames “Extreme contrast” photo challenge and had light and dark on my mind.

However, the scene persisted for a long time. The light was coming through the windows on and off in Morse code tapping out a message for me:

“Look, Marina. See.

Look ,Marina. See.”

The play of light and the beautiful contrasts made me catch my breath. The arrangement and placement of the people, the way that they were dressed so similarly and the leading line composition suddenly made me realize something:

It was not me seeing the scene, someone or something was showing it to me.

And then, we arrived in Tel Aviv and this amazing composition broke itself up. It only lived for a few minutes in front of my eyes and though I tried to describe it here in words, I know that I didn’t do it justice.

Maybe my photographer’s eye got tuned it an extra notch, maybe I had light and shadows on my mind because of the photo challenge but I know in my heart that this is not 100% correct.

My writing app never freezes up on the train and I don’t often take the express train in the mornings. I was meant to be there that day, seeing that composition of people on the train.

And I have not really understood WHY.

Maybe one of the art muses just wanted to say hi? Or God wanted me to realize once again how beautiful life is?

I just know that the more I insist on being creative, going on photo shoots, writing blogs and things and making baby apps, the stronger the feeling becomes that creativity is not a one-way street.

There is something or someone on the other side throwing crumbs of inspiration and switching the sun on and off through the windows so that I can pay attention.

Have you ever felt a muse visited you , or am I the only weirdo here?



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