Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Castles in the Sand

As a child I loved building sandcastles on the beach. I remember making massive fortresses with moats and towers and finding seaweed or crab legs, brightly coloured shells and stones and various flotsams to decorate my creations. When my children were young we had opportunities to build these wonderful and imaginative creations and I really enjoyed the chance to help inspire them in this wonderful amusement, although sometimes I think they preferred to bury dad in the sand. I think it’s a tradition all over the world to build these fun and inspired structures and even as adults we never lose our sense of playfulness when we spend time on the beach, especially with kids.
Oh, but where does the time go? It flies, so they say, when you’re having fun, and drags like shuffling feet when things are bad. We never have enough time to do the things we want to do, and yet we often squander time and later wish we’d done something more useful. Every minute I didn’t spend with my kids as they were growing up is time I regret, and every moment I was with them is a treasured memory I am thankful to have. So many times I have wondered why I wasted a split second of my life, and so often I have given thanks for all the wonderful experiences I have had, and then I try to remember that a full life has ups and downs and the bad times also make us better if we learn from the lessons time continues to teach.

I’ve been far too busy lately to post anything here, and for that I offer my humblest apologies, because I do like to update this Blog and provide a few interesting photos for those who drop by – still about a hundred visitors a week, and so I thank you for your patience. However, between a demanding work schedule, friends who always, seem to have something going on that I “just can’t miss” and my own travels to see interesting sights, I never seem to have the free time to write these little essays anymore.

So, having a break between classes today I decided to write this, and say sorry for any glaring errors. I have marked out a couple mornings over the next few weeks to write about some interesting things I’ve been part of recently, therefore I promise to get a couple more posts on here before the Christmas season wraps me up in a multitude of activities.

However, I did make a special effort to get along to visit the Antalya Sand Sculpture fair down at the end of Lara beach, past all the open air discos and family barbecue and picnic sites, where the beach just rolls on around toward Alanya on the other side of this massive and magnificent bay. The theme for this year was “Hollywood movies” and many of the sand carvings really brought the characters from these top box-office spectaculars to life. Some of the creations were simply amazing, showing genuine talent and ability and of course, begged the question, are they art?
I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘art’, but many of the works certainly necessitated craftsmanship of a superior level, and some showed great creative inspiration and interpretation, while others simply captured a scene from a particular film. All the ‘artists’ were invited practitioners, and there were sculptors from America, Great Britain, Spain and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Australia, Mexico and Brazil to name a few places listed as homelands for this troupe of creative individuals who travel the world exhibiting their skill and finesse on the finest beaches and large indoor arenas.

When I lived in Mallorca I became friendly with a Spanish guy who was squatting in a villa on the beach who was a fabulous sculptor of sand images.

I often stopped to chat with him (his English being as poor as my Spanish we generally ended up just sharing a smoke and a coffee while admiring the view) to discuss his technique for creating the beautiful artwork and talent he demonstrated for coins people would toss in his hat as they strolled along the promenade. He certainly could have taken part in these types of competitive events.

 Although I only made it for the final day of this international event, having pencilled it in as a “must visit” happening several months earlier, I still felt well rewarded for the effort. Many of the creatives who design and produce these monolithic sculptures deserve wider recognition, and their extraordinary skills are certainly worthy of finer appreciation.

Also, during October I visited the 49th annual Antalya Portakal (orange) International Film Festival and enjoyed the highlights of the annual event as an interested spectator peering into the cultural life of this fascinating Mediterranean city. There were many Turkish television and movie stars in attendance, and a few actors and directors made themselves available for lectures, workshops and interviews, which made the whole event rather educational as well as entertaining.
It hasn’t yet reached the status of Cannes or the Sundance festival, but it was a unique experience for me to be surrounded by all these Turkish celebrities, many of whom I'll admit I didn’t even know. Although, I was thrilled that Özgü Namal attended, as I really enjoyed her performance in the beautiful and emotionally moving film Mutluluk (mutlu means happy, mutluluk means happiness or, more specifically: bliss), which was recommended to me by a friend, and previously won the award for best film at the festival. I’m still learning to recognise various Turkish personalities, and to be honest I doubt I’ll ever grasp the entire realm of major and minor cultural figures, but I do know a few that have already become part of my personal attempt at a directory of “celebrities regularly recognised”.

I’ve also been working on some new poems in anticipation of a regular open mic night a friend and I are starting at a popular venue in the city centre for people who want to perform their own songs, do stand-up comedy or recite poetry, as well as providing a platform and forum for literary discussion and base for offering poetry workshops. So, I will post a couple new pieces on my other Blog when I get some extra free time. I’ll have to practice before performing again as it's been a while. For though the memories of special nights still remain, nothing replaces the activity of actually doing as opposed to thinking.
As castles in the sand are eventually washed away by the surging tide, time also slowly erodes the clarity of memories, leaving only traces of the foundation of reasons and the result of so many actions. As a great healer, time softens the hard edges of hurt and disappointment so the fruitive activity born of hope can grow once more. Live long enough, they say, and you will surely experience the intimacy and purity of real love and the inevitable pain of heartbreak and regret.

However, life can be like those temporary sand sculptures; we build dreams again and again to inspire others to find optimism in everyday occupation and to create something that lasts for the next generation to discover with youthful eyes and strong hearts. In this way love gains power, and with determination and integrity, and a mind open to trust and acceptance, we can look to the future with starry eyes in certain knowledge of the ultimate ‘mutluluk’.
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