The Why of Things

For as long as memory has allowed, I’ve had big ideas and daily life has been taking steps towards the transfer of these ideas from brain to world. A birthing.

Sometimes there is an apparent reason for what is being birthed and other times there is a pull in the direction of the thing, that goes beyond vocabulary.

I met up with a cared for friend today and we talked about the varied sometimes parralel worlds we show up to daily in the act of creation. He asked me a simple question about a world I was describing. Why?

It led me down the path of realisation that sometimes we look too closely at the worlds we are building, accepting their sure existence, without necessarily questioning or understanding the why.

So, this is an open letter to self, pondering publicly on the why this world is important to me to create.

Building is audacious, lonely and more often than not, frightening. Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. By this definition, I have been insane for as long as memory allows. So have so many other dreamers that keep showing up to the building of things that take time and peace of mind in equal measures; pressed down, shaken together and running over; with the unwavering belief that the next day, week, month, year or even decade is the one that gives back.

In a fast modern world where ideas on their own have no footing, and must be paired with execution, distribution and promotion to make a whisper that could one day turn to a roar, it is the belief in self, the uplifting of peers and holding up of one another that makes the dream of tomorrow remotely possible.

This is my undiluted why.

Swaptime is a building a world of people that are building other worlds. An aggregator of dreamers who show up relentlessly to the itch that is their dream and the minuscule possibility that it could one day be brought forth to life. A world where pain points are shared and understood in unison, where there is an extension of self in the giving of skills acquired through the act of building, but also the receiving of extensions of others. An uplifting.

Masking As a Way of Life

Definition - Masking is where a person acts in ways others might consider “normal” in order to be accepted by them. 

Definition - Masking has evolved and is now defined as concealing one’s emotion by portraying another emotion

I am interested in observing people that mask, photographing them and talking to them to understand their why and how they have successfully done so without suspicion. I guess this is in a bid to understand what reality has forced them into hiding - what society has enforced that because if there is one thing society loves, it is uniformity. In looking for the definition of masking, I came across a number of examples formed with various words but they all had the same meaning behind them. A difference in being. In my own words, to mask is to wear a face that is not yours.

People mask for all sorts of reasons - men mask because that’s just what men are meant to do to appear ‘strong’ all the time - they only ever wear their firm manly face - the never shifting out of control face, while the I’m-not-so-strong- today face is concealed lest they be considered weak.

Women mask in an attempt to find the right level of being - to not be too much but also to not be too little - why are you so sad? Smile! - why are you so all over the place - be still - why are you so loud? Who will marry you? - so women mask - one face a day in search of the perfectly acceptable by society face - the ‘this-is-just-alright’ face.

I have been curious about masking as a lifestyle and I am currently working on a series for ‘Masking’ with all sorts of interesting people from different backgrounds and it has been a blessing to behold. 

Today I realised that masking on it’s own is not sufficient. If a stranger wears a mask and comes into your home, he is still a stranger and that instills fear. For masking to be a successful outcome - one has to perfect the art of Blending. How well can you fit in even when you stand out?


My favourite definition of blending - “is the technique of gently intermingling two or more values to create a gradual transition or to soften lines”.

Here are some questions I have with regards to Masking

  • Where do you keep yourself when you are playing the role of someone else?
  • If you have several you’s then who is the authentic you?
  • How long do you have to shift yourself before “they” decide not to show up again?
  • How is it possible to hide in plain sight?
  • When you mask so much that you change who you are so successfully, can true joy be found in that new identity or will you always look for you? 

  • Before I look at others, I prefer to start with myself so I made several self portraits of figurative masking.

    Welcome to my masking series

    The Collective

    The work that we do takes up a very significant part of our life. It is what we wake up everyday to do; we wear who we are for the day and then head out in pursuit of who we want to be. It is what we come back home with to our lovers, biological family and chosen family at the end of the day; to talk to them about the ups and the downs that the work day brought with it. When we are anxious most times, it is because we fear for our art or career. What are we doing, where it will get to, will we be ok? Love is what takes up most of whatever percentage is left if we are lucky but the things we do for a living; that is what we give most of our physical time and thoughts to on a day to day basis. 

    Through my journey of life and what I do for a living, I have sought to find my voice and to then live my voice. All me. As time passes, I have realised that this is no easy feat because the world does not exist in isolation or in a bubble. I want to be who I want to be because I am drawn to a repetitive pattern that always brings me back full circle to the same calling but also because I had one day looked at someone else and said ‘wow, I admire this and this is what I want my life to also look like’. We must look to those that have done this before us; first of all so we can know it is possible, then we must look to those that do it excellently so we can learn how to be what we want to be until we can create our own version of greatness that others will one day be also inspired by. It’s a beautiful cycle to  look at.

    I wonder, in the pursuit of looking to the greats that have come before, where does one draw the line between inspiration and copying? Sometimes I look around an industry and I find a lot of similarities in the way things are done and it begs the question; is this just the way things are done or is everyone copying the same few excellent people? It is all so easy to find what we love, copy and paste it and then do it long enough until it is our new identity; but as you do this, where have you left you? 

    Some days. I wake up with so much clarity in my mind’s eye, who I am in what I do, what my current status is and the distance between that and where my desired status is. A lot of this is bottled and has not yet been uncorked, but I see it; it is there and I tell myself that one day it will be out and it will be brilliant in the eyes of the beholder and it will inspire. Other days, I can not find me or my voice, so I look online, I scroll instagram, then twitter, then pocket as I file things under ‘inspiration’ and ‘things to re-create’ and I create a compilation of what others have done before me. Sometimes I can not find me for a day, a week, weeks, a month and time does not stop for me to look around and gather myself so I keep going at the fast pace of the world and I go and I keep going on because that is all that there is to do.  Creating what I create even when the inspiration lacks and I’m copying and pasting, I am at-least still going; it can never be said that I am not part of the collective that is doing. I am doing, but what am I doing is the question?

    The desire has always been to find my voice in the things that I do; the fashion, the photography, the writing, the other things and to keep doing adding volume to the voice until it is amplified but we live in an opinionated era where think pieces are a thing, people are cancelled so loudly and publicly and everyone is sensitive to one thing or the other so personal opinions are stored in a cool dry place and they gather dust as voices are reduced and then reduced some more and on some days we are scared to be because, are we being too much? Is this an acceptable level of be? 

    Now there’s silence and stillness. There are no cars on the road, suddenly even the birds have stopped chirping; there is a sense of gloom as we frightfully speak to friends we can no longer brunch with and hug, lovers we can not kiss, parents we can’t sit with as we reminisce on life. How fickle it all is and how much we took it all for granted and assured. The worst part of this all to me, is that there is no sun. The sun somehow always makes things better, but I’m sitting by my balcony writing this and overlooking a slight drizzle drop lazily on leaves; but there is no sun. I’m experiencing a sunless pandemic and dissociation has become the order of the day. Home is Dissociation Central. Some days we are just thankful to be alive and that none of our loved ones have been harmed but on other days we are paralysed with fear because other people and their loved ones are dying and everything is on pause and we are scared scared. I am double scared. I haven’t scratched the surface yet. The pope will be home for easter this year. The Pope. Home on Easter Day. There is no Easter in 2020 and this makes me realise that days have the weight they do because humans make it so, we buy Easter eggs and wear our fancy clothes and we make the days special but now the days are montueswedsthursfrisatsunday all in one. Identical days filled in with routine. The most adventurous thing I did this week was put on yellow eyeshadow. We wanted an infinity weekend and now that we have it, we realise that we also want other things we once thought mundane. 

     Motion has stopped in the outside world but upon a closer look, the wheels are still spinning. The collective is still creating and telling us that this is the time to re-invent but how can a not-yet-fully-invented be re-invented? A work in progress still. How? I’m beginning to sit more with myself and less in the producing of things just because the cycle never stops. I am left with myself to see old things as they are and discover new things as I imagine them to be. I can create the life I want to live; this is my superpower. Whoever I say I will be, is who I will be. Who do you want to be? Envision it.

     Are we looking to the collective to see what they’re doing or are we looking inwards to hear the voice that the continuity of achievements in the old world had silenced over time? As we enter a new world, remember that you are the creative director of your life and everything you need is within you, it always has been 

    (Note to self)

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