Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Courage to Change & The Joy of the Journey / Life of Pi

I'm sorry I haven't been as active recently on here. But to be honest, ever since I returned home from New York I haven't been quite sure what to say. New York was an experience that brought me a clarity I didn't expect; and although it was fleeting, it forced me to re-examine the path I'm headed down right now. So, I ask you candidly, how do you change your life?

Change is a frightening, magnificent constant. We change all the time as we grow, quite naturally. The interests we hold, the people we meet and let go of, the places we live, and the work we do. But what happens when that change is a choice and not an inevitable progression? When the change is a risk regardless of the direction but is the only way forward? I know risk, and I know change, but it's different this time. I have faced many paths but at the same time I was always determined and aware of what I wanted. For the first time, or in perhaps quite a long time, I find myself unsure of what it is that I want now, and if the path I've chosen will lead me to that phantom place. I can't speak in too much detail, for obvious reason, but I know now that unless I make a choice I will live in this stagnancy. I know, I feel it in my heart, that I've taken all that I can take; and I must change direction or live within it. The choice is a human choice, not a fateful choice, and in both cases I will lose something. But I do not fear the leap, I fear the transition. Nervousness has replaced conviction, and this stress has caused a division within myself. If I haven't been speaking like myself lately, it's inherently due to this. So, then, how do we change?

To change is to be courageous. We are so finite, being human, at least physically. Bound by the world that we live in and bound, even greater, but the social roles we often choose to adopt. It's a simple thing to imagine the lives we want to lead, but it takes an immeasurable amount of conviction and courage to adopt the cause, and eventually the role. Along the way we are faced with the constant reality of the effects our decisions will have; not only on ourselves but to those around us. The reality of living day to day and building a life while searching for a dream is a path that can never be simple. Though without it, and without the pain that it promises, it would perhaps be quite difficult to truly appreciate, with utmost gratitude, all that we had done. With the darkness the light is brighter, no?

I watched Life of Pi in theatres recently. It was magnificent, to say the very least, and was masterfully composed by director Ang Lee into a stunningly visual display that evolved with as much grace as the narrative itself.  There were wonderful metaphysical aspects of the film that resonated with me. The isolation of Pi and his dissociation from not only his origin but his relationship with God. I thought it was brilliant; the juxtaposition of his internal abyss with the pristine beauty of the Pacific "abyss". I don't think I completely grasped the power of Life of Pi when I originally viewed it; totally taken aback by it's beauty. But I think I understand it now, having internalized those images. The juxtaposition is more than just a dialectical and interesting balance; I think it signifies the beauty of struggle alone. That Pi's life, like ours, is filled with abyss, loneliness, deserts, and isolation as much as it is dotted with light, joy, and perpetual love. We yearn, strive, and leap towards the top of the hill, the peak of the mountain, to rid ourselves of the weight of existence. An idea, a hope, that at some point joy will be all we have. But the reality is that that cannot be. And it isn't that joy cannot exist on that level, it is more that life itself, the act of living, is the true joy. Pi's journey is an epic tale of grandeur and unimaginable conflict, but without his desolation he could never nearly comprehend the purity and grace of the light he felt at the end of it. The reason the journey is so stunning is because it is the beauty of the story, both figuratively and literally. God, in essence, was never away from Pi. As with the glow of the jellyfish painting the sea in a neon aqua, or the massive whale that leaped over Pi's small body without disturbing his voyage, or the simple island silhouetted in the shape of a Goddess, or perhaps Buddha, as if inviting Pi into itself. The lesson is that God is the journey; the divinity of life is the divinity of God. The peaks are our reflection of that beauty, but the beauty itself are the valleys in between. The details of the painting, the history of the painter.

It's difficult to plan life out for ourselves when the paths we take wind and twist unexpectedly. But without the challenge we cannot find the fulfillment. Struggle is a purity that equals the beauty of peace, in a sense, because it teaches us peace. It is hard and perhaps impossible not to feel fear being human, full of dreams and full of doubt; but true positivity comes from the courage to live with that fear, and then, eventually, surpass it. We live within the darkness but we must light our way through it. That is the courage of change; because, in essence, to live is to change. So I guess, regardless of my indecision, I will have to take that leap.

Stay healthy,

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Beauty of New York, The Spell of Manhattan

Right now I'm sitting in my sweet, little spot of heaven in the heart of Manhattan; a modest, boutique hotel at the corner of 44th and 6th in Midtown. To summarize my experience in New York would perhaps not do the city the right amount of justice, but being as descriptive as I often am, I will surely attempt it! My short stay hasn't gifted me the right amount of time to experience the true diversity of this city, but regardless I have been privileged enough to see so much of Midtown, where most of my work has taken place, while being here.

New York feels like a different country; and I'm not just saying that because I'm from Canada! I mean a different country from the Continent itself. The energy is electric, and though you've probably heard so many people say that, it's more than just that. There is a visual majesty to the city that is like magic. Almost every street in Manhattan is lined with dramatic, bold cityscapes of iron, glass, steel, marble, and stone. The visual impact alone is so beautiful it feels otherworldly! It breathes and moves with a vibrancy and an ebb like that of a living creature; sighing, singing, and pulsating with a core of life. But it sits in absolute prominence; a towering city core that engulfs all who enter it - absorbs all above, below, and within it like a massive, sparkling entity. In that sense it almost exists out of time itself; out of reality itself - like a cave of wonder.

Midtown Manhattan by Andrew C. Mace

Being an urbanite from Canada's busiest cosmopolitan core, I found that the energy of New York is not so unlike that of much of Toronto. The same vibe of urbanity and the movement of the streets exists in the same frequency; and in that sense I feel like Toronto prepared me for New York. However, New York is at a much, much higher level of the same - vastly more dramatic, more visually stunning, faster, louder, crazier, more ridiculous, more luxurious, and more diverse. It holds together communities of incredible variance and spreads across a vast expanse of land that can take you from the tallest buildings you've ever seen to the densest and oldest communities in North America. It shines with a prismatic identity of liberation, uniqueness, and oneness. It almost felt like a fantastic dream world; a greater, bigger, more amazing Toronto. In other words, it fit me perfectly. Every bit of it flowed with me, and I felt almost immediately at home within the tight gridlock of Manhattan's impressive streets.

Streets of Manhattan by Philipp Klinger Photography

There's a huge wet storm right now in the city and a massive snow storm that's hitting Toronto at this moment! So to be quite honest I'm not even sure I'll be able to catch my flight tomorrow! But regardless of where I end up this weekend, New York has given me quite a gift. A new insight; complete with some fantastic experiences in the industry and fantastic experiences in the street. I think I could be here and make it work; I think New York could be for me. It's too wonderful to give up. But until that moment comes, I'll have to keep fighting for that future, that place in my head and that feeling in my heart that I want so deeply. The dream is the gift, really, and the journey is the adventure. What are your big city dreams?

Today I had the honour of being invited to Heather Lawton's Studio following her amazing presentation at New York Fashion Week yesterday in Chelsea. I plan to write a full article about how fantastic her Collection is and how wonderful it was to meet her and see her work space. A true inspiration! Keep your eyes locked on my sister-site, DylanInTheCity, for full coverage!

Stay Healthy!

P.S. See my journey through New York this week through these easy outlets!

Vine / @TheDylanDias

Monday, 4 February 2013

The Majesty of Toronto & A New York Dream / #1♥TO

Time has escaped me yet again my friends. It's been too long since I've been here, forgive me. But I assure you, as I seem so often to do, it's for good reason! A lot has been happening -  a lot of projects coming together, and a lot of new beginnings that seem to be just peaking over the horizon. But I have yet to see where they will go, of course, which is why I'm not putting those words into any context really. It's funny, I live my life in a bit of a blur. If I'm in one spot for too long I end up trying to jump to other areas; trying to keep things fluid. But nothing really ever comes to me quickly, or spontaneously. The progression I've achieved, both personally, professionally, and otherwise; have consistently been steady, paced things. I wonder, if that's a part of life I'm just going to have to accept and live with; that my mind and my heart move faster than my life. But my life, characteristically, never moves faster than what I can handle either. Divinity? Probably. I'm just a human with big dreams.

I've been posting random Toronto Tourism videos on my Facebook Page recently. If you're a friend and you actually pay attention to what I say then you must have seen them! The videos were created by Canadian Tourism as part of a new, visual series of fantastic short film-esque adverts to entice Canadians to continue exploring their own country. Toronto was just one of many cities/regions featured on the website and Youtube Page. There's no real, solid reason why I was doing this; I feel like Toronto is a different place in the Summer, and I guess I just wanted people who don't spend enough time in the city to see what it could be for them. I find many people I know who live in Toronto and the GTA don't really know their city all that well; and that's largely due to the fact that Toronto is a city of villages; and unless you actually spend the time and make the effort to travel about, you probably know very little about it. Most people in this part of the world tend to spend most of their time in their respective neighbourhoods, because we aren't as interconnected and dense as older metropolises; especially since we've expanded. However, Toronto is a city you can only see from the streets, essentially. It would wonderful to see the mega-city come together in a celebration and exploration of all that is has to offer and all that it is. A bustling metropolis and a cosmopolitan hub; a multicultural and prismatic community of heritage, tradition, and culinary diversity; an artistic, trendy, socially progressive, and environmentally conscious World City; and an enigmatic, thriving core of an evolving architectural, urban, and social landscape.

Incredible shot of Toronto from the Islands by Murphyz

My adoration of Toronto (Toronto proper; the inner-city, Downtown) has only grown since I've moved into the city; although close friends will say that it's been a love affair for quite a long time. Toronto was always like Oz to me. Growing up in the distant suburbs, never quite fitting into the world I lived in, and never feeling comfortable in my own skin - Toronto stood as some grand beacon. A place where I was allowed to be myself in this unimagined totality, and not be afraid of it. The CN Tower stood like a spire of liberation; I used to stare at it from the highway as a child, saying to myself that it'd only be a matter of time until I was there; until I was home, essentially. A lot of people don't understand the connection I have with Toronto for that very reason; because I've never really mentioned very much about who I was as a child. But, without boring you with an overly verbose autobiography, I can just say that I was never quite in sync with my life. I learned very young who I should be and shouldn't be, and most of my childhood and adolescence was me trying to be the person I should be, without letting myself blossom too much. I kept myself consistently under control, and I never quite understood my own skin, like I said before. I used to travel into the city with my parents and see kids who were more daring, more androgynous, more creative, and of course, gay; and I felt like they were a me I couldn't be (although I didn't quite understand why at the time). Toronto was a symbol of freedom for me, and it always has been up until this very moment. As I sit here, turning 26 soon, being an active member of the inner city for the last 4 years - Toronto remains that vibrant, musical, bright, and liberal core of life that simultaneously inspires me, challenges me, and sustains me daily. It really is my absolute home, if I could be so candid; and it will always be in my heart for that very reason; regardless of where I may end up.

In the spirit of worlds within a city, I'd like to do a feature every now and then on DylanInTheWorld come Summer. Once a week - a post that celebrates a different neighbourhood within the city. A photo spread, and a description of what makes it uniquely what it is. From The Junction to Leslieville and beyond, the anatomy of the city. What do we think? It'll give me a good excuse to perhaps run into corners and cracks even I haven't seen yet. Like I said, Toronto is a city you can only see from the streets. It's very likely there are small spots you never imagined existed, hidden like gems in the diverse visual landscape of Toronto's cultural fabric.

Aside from all this at-home love, I should mention that I have some exciting projects coming up! My freelance work is almost entirely Fashion related, so you can keep up to date with my creations and projects on my sister-site, DylanInTheCity. But since this is a personal moment of giddiness, I feel obligated to mention it here as well - I'm heading to New York City! The city of cities beckons. As part of a project I'm producing in partnership with Jossyl Bacalla, Toni Francis, and New York-based designer Heather Lawton, I'll be heading down for Fashion Week this Wednesday. I'm going to have the honour and privilege of attending Heather's Runway Presentation as well as meeting her for the first time and seeing her Collection first-hand. An exciting venture for me; I'll be sure to update everyone on it's progress. When it's ready, it'll be seen.

Central Park South  in NYC by Grey van der Meer

If Toronto is a beacon of liberation at home, New York might just be that beacon for the World. I have yet to see what I will take away from this experience, but regardless of how fleeting it may be, I can only hope that Fashion and New York are somehow intertwined in my future. I certainly have the passion, work ethic, and drive for it; being such an active member in Toronto's creative market. I hope that the work I've done will lead me to something greater in a city where Fashion exists and its beating core. I will be LIVE during my entire trip to New York, from Fashion Week to the streets of Midtown. Stay connected and share my journey.

Vine / @TheDylanDias

Stay Healthy,