Monday, October 4, 2021

Sean Tucker - The Meaning In The Making

Sean Tucker, The Meaning
in the Making (2021)

Photographer. Filmmaker. Author. Sean Tucker is also a musician, a former minister, and an autodidact. I know him from his YouTube channel. He explores the "why" of making with just enough grounding in technical details to remind me that it's about how technology is used. Sean takes us along with him on his journey as he finds meaning in making. He learns by doing as well as from study. He creates lush scenes that nurture our senses and our souls.

The first 90 seconds of this video on the liminal times in our lives is magical.

The book, The Meaning in the Making, the why and how behind our human need to create, was written mostly during the pandemic, shortly after he turned 40. It parallels what has been on YouTube, though from a different angle and with more backstory. It's an engaging read, a seemingly small book packed with insights and compassion. At 319 pages, it not all that small. It definitely stands on its own, without the videos, and without any photographs other than the cover image.

A few points:

Meaning and Making - Humans are makers and we get meaning in our lives through our creative activities. We also understand our lives better through our making. It's a process of discovery and invention.

Chaos and Order - We live on the edge of chaos. The world is and has always been falling apart, whether from the the intimacy of a life from birth through death or the vast abstraction of thermodynamics, the continuing threat of thermonuclear war, the already present disruption of climate change, the many cycles in the rise and fall of civilizations. It is in confronting the chaos and making order, however transient or limited, that we grapple with the essence of our lives.

Mourn for Humanity - We must learn to mourn for humanity. It's a suggestion made to Sean by one of his seminary teachers. It's a lesson that I come back to again and again. Teju Cole talks about it as hospitality offered by those who are tired to those who are exhausted. We all have many wounds which need healing. From that place of humility and personal openness, we can take action which is helpful.

Follow Your Blisters - Joseph Campbell may have popularized the instruction to "follow your bliss", though Sean says he later wished he'd said to "follow your blisters". I find that in the winding trail of what I have done, what I keep coming back to, what my actions say more than my words, is where I found my own meaning in making. Searching around, I learned that Kate Sanborn in 1892 popularized the phrase “genius is inspiration, talent and perspiration," predating Edison's "2% inspiration, 98% perspiration" by a few years.

Shadows - If not for the shadows, there would be nothing to see. It's in the contrast between light and dark, in the changes in light, that we see form. It's from the shadows, from the periphery and the depths, that new things come - the wellspring of creation from the dark places of our being. And there's the counter story of hiding in the shadows, of fears of all kinds, to things denied or pushed aside, if only for the moment, before they become unavoidable. Embrace Your Shadows 

Benediction - Sean is still a minister, though his flock is now artists and his scripture is from a broad sweep of wisdom, not a single doctrine. (See his How I Write Scripts for my YouTube Videos)

The whole book is a blessing offered to us from his attempts to make order from chaos, to heal his own wounds, to find his own meaning. Following his lead, I offer my best wishes for Sean, the book, and all of us on our journeys.