Practicing Like Water

A state of the luminal…

dream-like view of a tree against the sky

I recently realized filmpoetry provides an escape for me. In nearly forty years of creating I have never been one to pressure myself. My professional and personal creativity always flowed organically. Then, suddenly my creativity stopped. There was just no time, nor feeling for it. In early 2017 I was working on a large client project, going through a separation and then divorce, sold a home and moved to another state. It was overwhelming and a joyful creative outlet ended, just like that.

Shortly after I moved, I slowly began to film and photograph whenever I felt emotionally moved, curious or inspired. At times I even experimented. Then, this past February, Donna, a friend and mentor who owns a spiritual center spent a few days with me in my new home. While I was at my emotional worst, she provided support, spiritual growth and compassion. We share a love of the beach and ironically when we were together symbolic events would magically appear right in front of our eyes. A turtle circled our beach chairs, a gigantic 3-foot jellyfish came ashore and as seen in “Practicing Like Water,” an island-like sandbar appeared in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, where at least a hundred birds were peacefully hanging out. Donna walked gently through the bird oasis so as not to disturb their well-being and the birds simply moved aside with her every step forward. This went on for some time until eventually the sandbar was about to disappear and fall into the water. Suddenly the birds were spooked and flew upwards. In another scene, Donna, beautiful in a white bathing suit and hat floats like an angel. I filmed both scenes with my iPhone 6s Plus. It was the perfect tool for the spontaneity of those moments in the water. For months the experience stuck with me because I would look for the little sandbar every time I visited that particular beach, but I never saw it again.

woman on sandbar among gulls

Sometime during the summer I felt as if I needed to go back to my roots—when I first began creating filmpoetry. I listened to narrated audio for poems I saved from the now closed-down Poetry Storehouse website, a wonderful place where poets, filmmakers and remixers collaborated. The beautiful voice which first spoke to me in 2013 was also the impetus five years later which led me back to creating this piece. When I read Kate Marshall Flaherty’s poem (see below), it immediately resonated with me and I knew I had footage which would work well for the piece. Still I wasn’t ready and the printed poem sat on my desk for months.

While I hadn’t been editing projects in the past year, I was producing content. More importantly, I spent time on innerwork and participated in an online course and forum conducted by the Centre of Applied Jungian Studies in South Africa. Carl Jung’s theories are concentrated on the conscious and unconscious mind, archetypes, dreams, synchronicity and symbolism. In fact, I’ve also been keeping a dream journal and analyzing them on occasion. These are the ways in which I found my way back to my authentic self, my personal journey and living a life of joy and gratefulness. It’s all a practice, along with tools like meditation and mindfulness.

Suddenly one day in June, out of nowhere I felt compelled to organize footage for the poem and put together some sequences in a stream of consciousness manner. I knew I was missing imagery and sought some stock footage to fill in additional tone. Then I left it unfinished for at least a month. When I looked at the sequence again I was quite surprised to find that I had it in pretty good shape. The final edit took me about eight hours to complete. The original image sequences were not changed in any way. I added in stock fashion imagery from the Creative Commons and made color refinements. I didn’t labor on it, I knew exactly when it was complete. I remember wondering if I could pick up on creating quality filmpoetry where I last left off. I feel this filmpoem is consistent with my other work in the genre.

When I look back I realize I allowed myself time to absorb the poem into my unconscious mind. I saw it sitting on my desk everyday. Everything came together working with Kate Marshall Flaherty’s poem in a semi-conscious dream-like way. It’s almost as if I worked on it with my eyes closed. Ironically, when I asked Kate to add comments to this writing (she knew little about my thoughts), she replied,

I’ve always been fascinated with dreams, and I actually have several poetry dream sequences. I also give guided meditations, where we relax and go into that luminal state—that amazing threshold between sleep and waking—that place of the unconscious, of dreams and symbols. When I do my Stillpoint writing workshops, I always start with the meditation so that we can drag up some of those riches from the subconscious and alpha brain wave state and let it pour into our writing. Some will say that state is where we encounter the true self. It’s also a state biblically and throughout religious texts that angels and the divine appear.

I was floored to read what she said because of course this totally resonates with me and I didn’t know any of it when I chose the poem.

view of dark trees through a window screen

My spiritual and Jungian work certainly found its way into this filmpoem. Until I began writing this I hadn’t noticed repeated images of screen symbolism. In the beginning the screens are quite dense. Looking at it metaphorically screens are a framed construction designed to divide, conceal or protect. By the end of the piece there’s still a large lanai screen. But, notice while there is framework it is open to blue sky and clouds. There are also several images of floating mirror balls. According to Carl Jung, the sphere represents a universal symbol, one that illustrates time movement and analyzing the self. For me the poem is also memory closure and brings to light an important time in my life (when I was less conscious), which I will always remember gratefully. The dark, eerie trees and lightning were shot at night out the window of my old house, not long before I left. It is relevant metaphorically because it is the last vestige of my prior life and is the only footage from there included. The shadow side is exposed by the light and is ‘filtered’ back into the cleansing fluidity of water and openness——my life now. Donna’s smile when the birds lift away clearly illustrates “…peaceful silence dissolving into one smile like water.”

Filmpoetry has been a source of meaningful self-expression which offers me the ability to be abstract, esoteric and dream-like. I clearly appreciate what Kate says:

I wrote this particular poem after a very moving dream about an encounter with a dear old love. The dream was so vivid and the feeling so real that when I awoke I was in that luminal state—not sure if I was awake or still asleep and dreaming—and the feeling was so beautiful that I thought I had been visited by an angel or some wonderful part of myself, or perhaps the spirit of that first love. The dream left me with an incredible peaceful and radiant feeling.

That space is exactly where I was as I created the visual tone for the piece. I have an affirmation by Idil Ahmed above my desk which reads in part, “What belongs to you will effortlessly flow into your life…” Surely that is what happened here.

Practicing Like Water can be perceived in many ways. For me, it simply floated into my reality and it reminds me to keep growing. Kate wrote:

Lori’s images really capture that encounter with love and with self and with that incredible lightness of being. I think the music as well enhances the idea of calm and beauty; the lifting of birds so like a spirit taking flight.

All I can say is… thank you Kate Marshall Flaherty for arousing and inspiring my creative spirit to take flight once again.

Watch the film on Moving Poems.

Practicing Like Water

by Kate Marshall Flaherty

I.
Crumbs of sleep in my eye.
Dream residue.
I squeeze my lids tight,
burrow deeper
into the warm blanket-folds,
wanting to go back
where I am sharing a meal with you
at a sunny pine table.
Cascade Mountain through the glass.
No need to speak,
or hold hands,
peaceful silence dissolving
into one smile like water.

II.
The weightless feeling still fluttering
in the cage of my ribs.
Why do we waken
with such longing, sometimes?
Have we been floating with angels?
Practicing for death,
in sleep?
Are we slipping into a pool
where dream and dreamer are one?
Are we each a cup of water
poured into the sea?

Lori H. Ersolmaz

Lori H. Ersolmaz (website) is a multidisciplinary filmmaker with a strong focus on social and political issues. Her company Voices of Hope Productions works with non-profit organizations to support policy reform through media advocacy. Lori produces a web series called Engaging People that explores the lives of effective change-makers and concerned citizens. She teaches design and film and media studies courses at Rider University. “Video poetry provides an outlet to experiment and provides a great sense of satisfaction.”

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for watching and sorry for your loss. I can see how the imagery relates to your piece…Birds are a source of symbolism for me too. Healing takes time. Keep doing things that feel good. Sending you love and light…

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