Category Archives: Photography

Feeling the Drought in Me

'I am Desert' by Imke Rust

‘I am Desert I’ by Imke Rust (Photography, Digital print on Alu-Dibond)

There is a blurring, hot tension in the air. Even though I am not there, I am so familiar with this situation that my body physically reacts to it every time I think about it or remember the many years of experiencing this same intense and ominous collective fear of an upcoming drought.

I feel how this fear increases with every day in which the sun burns from the bluest skies with no cloud in sight. I feel the heat and the dust and the lack.

The lack of everything…

lack of aliveness and lack of hope.

I can taste the dryness.

But mostly I feel the silent terror and doom hanging in the air like an invisible monster.

I have experienced the impact of a serious drought. And I have experienced the fear oozing out of every wretched discussion, which repeatedly circled around the drought and the rain like a starving dog tied to a tree sniffing some fresh meat in the distance.

The elderly compared and remembered the many droughts they have experienced and seemed to revel in reciting their horrors. The younger, who could not rely on memories that much, were more likely to speculate according to the weather forecasts, the dreaded El-Niño phenomena or any other scientific statistics or findings. I remember these discussions as mostly negative, fearful and resigned, sometimes angry and usually interrupted only with long heavy pauses, knowing glances and deep sighs. For one or other reason, everybody seemed to know that we would be doomed with another great drought, as if by stating the worst that can happen, we are bracing ourselves for it. The few hopeful voices in between quickly got lost or talked into submission.

This fear and the helplessness have crept into my bones. As a child I listened to all these discussions in the hope that somewhere some one would have a solution or know for sure what is going to happen. Will it rain?

Hoping to find somebody who could say: it is going to be okay, even if it doesn’t. Even as a child I knew, that no matter what people said, the rains are not always forthcoming, that is just part of living in a desert country. So I hoped to find some way of creating hope and faith that the natural order of things are okay…

The older I became, the more resigned I became. I had accumulated more experience with dry years, with droughts and the impact it had on our life.

Yes, I fear the droughts. Deeply. But I came to fear one thing even more: the continuous doom saying and negative speculating that happens throughout the year, but increasingly in the rainy-season, when this seems to be the only topic on everybody’s minds. And the feeling of helplessness.

Sure, when the rains come and when they are good, we all are grateful for a moment, only to easily and quickly forget our moaning and return to life as we know and want it.

When the rains do not come, or let us wait too long, we are spiralling down into an ever darker abyss of fear, lack and death. I came to think of this as natural, but when I became more aware of physically experiencing the discomfort of cringing cells in my body whenever I think about this, I started to question what is happening. Even more so, when I realised that even far away from home, in Germany, I am not immune to this.

What is natural is that we are living in a very dry country – in Namibia, named after one of the oldest deserts, with unpredictable and variable rainfall. What (according to me) is not natural is how we deal with it.

I understand the fear, because I feel it too. But I refuse to believe that this deep fear and immense sense of being helpless at the hands of the weather is necessary, natural or useful. I also feel that the relentless doom-mongering and negativity is the worst way of expressing this fear or avoiding the situation.

This constant distress is killing our souls and we have let the drought creep into our hearts and veins.

I started thinking about the ancient San people in Namibia and then also about so many different ancient cultures, maybe the most well-known being the American Indians. All people throughout history were exposed to the unpredictability of the weather and to extreme conditions, droughts, floods, raging storms and endless freezing winters. Maybe it is idealistic of me to assume that the people long ago had a better relationship to the woes of the climate and nature, but from the stories that we have from that time, I am sure they knew something, which we have lost.

I guess the core difference is that they lived with deep respect and reverence towards nature and understood the importance of a healthy give-and-take relationship with everything around them. They understood themselves as a small part or children of this much larger Mother Earth.

We on the other hand have come to view ourselves as masters of the earth. We believe it is our birth-right to exploit any natural resources, to take without giving and separate and put us above the rest of nature.

We have made man the centre of the universe and profit our highest and only purpose.

Every time a drought looms, we are uncomfortably reminded, that we are not the masters of this universe. Our presumed intelligence, scientific and technological advancements and our arrogance all are futile, when the environment stops supporting us. When earth stops to produce new resources. When earth dries up and shrivels under our endless and greedy exploitation.

We are at the mercy of a benevolent environment and we are part of everything that happens. The old people understood that, we don’t.

With every drought we get angrier and more fearful. People like farmers who live closer to nature feel it first and the most intense, while others can ignore it for longer, as they have already distanced themselves so much from nature. Their money can still buy food, when the animals and plants on the farm already starve, but eventually their money also will have nothing left to buy.

What if we all would be willing and open to rethink the possibility living more in tune with nature again? Before nature forces us to. What if we would stop investing our energy in complaining and doomsaying and instead find better ways of prepare and deal with reality?

'I am desert II' by Imke Rust

‘I am desert’ by Imke Rust
Photography, Digital print on Alu-Dibond

I refuse to believe that we are separate or above nature. And I refuse to believe that we are powerless. Not only should we honour and respect mother earth, but we should accept the responsibility that comes with it. If we understand that we are but a small part of the whole, yet we are an important and powerful part.

If we would see us as the hand of a person, we would understand that the hand is subjected to what the body does, but at the same time, it also has an important purpose and function. It is powerful in its own right, but not of its own. It needs the body. And the body needs the hand. The hand cannot complain that it is starving, if it refuses to act in its power and pick the fruit and bring it to the mouth.

My research and exploration into old rainmaking traditions have shown me, that we have the answers and the power of our destiny within us. Yes, there are forces larger than us, but we are part of those, and thus we also can have an impact.

Rainmaking has become synonymous to me with actively co-creating our reality, to become conscious of our part in this grand oneness and act accordingly.

We can choose how we want to act out this role. We might not be able to change Namibia into a rainforest, but we can learn to accept that we are living in an arid country, we can take responsibility for living within the means of what is available and the courage to act as blessings to our surroundings.

We can honour and respect what we have, and express our joy and gratitude in a thousand ways.

We can use our power to change our ways and find ways to better serve our earth-body.

Yes, I believe we can make rain and we should!

Is it easy? No, but it is definitely more constructive and fun, than being prophets of misfortune and disaster and clinging to our fears.

Do you fear being at the receiving end of the weather and climate around you? In what ways do you deal with that fear? And what is your solution? Do you save water? Have you ever performed a raindance? Or have you consciously prayed for rain? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

If you want to read more about my thoughts and actions on rainmaking, please click HERE to see a list of all blog posts on this subject.

( I started writing this as a short introduction to one of my rainmaking experiments which I wanted to share with you, but then it turned out to be a loooooong introduction and I decided to rather let you digest this first, and share the experiment with you in the next post.)

My New Year’s Resolution and a Gift for You

The Muse - by Imke Rust

The Muse – a self-portrait I have done this time a year ago while at home in Namibia.

The end of a year is the time when most of us take stock and plan ahead for the new year. Many friends are sharing their intentions, hopes and dreams on social media.

I, too, really want the next year to be awesome, but find it so difficult to put my desires into concrete shapes and words. My inner need to get more focussed has built up pressure in the past few days and my inability to focus has filled me with fear.

Today I decided to at least look through the things I have done in the past year and came upon the following text which I have written in September. It reminded me of a valuable lesson by which I have lived most of the past year, and probably should just continue to use as my motto in the next one, till I can fully embrace it.

I am sharing this with you, in the hope that it might inspire you too. Here it goes:

Sometime in 2013 when I felt really sick and depressed, and that already for a few months, I had this talk – with myself, or my higher self or God, well, that thing which sometimes answers you, by putting brand new and outrageous thoughts into your mind.

It went something like this:

Me: I finally want to be happy! And healthy!

It: Well, then just be happy and healthy.

Me: But I cannot. Cause I am depressed and my body is aching. Did you forget that I have a broken back, and ten other health issues on my plate on top of it?! Are you saying that it is my thinking and believes causing this?! It can’t be, because I have been trying to do all the right spiritual stuff and be positive and all that shit… and still here I am, feeling miserable, wanting to give up, but even too scared for that…. So?

It:      Just be.

Me (getting agitated): Grmpfff – I just told you, I am not. And it would be lying if I said that I am happy and healthy. And I will not lie. It is of no use.

It: No, just be. Breathe.

Me: Hä? (That is German for WTF?)

It: You know, how the world and you are trying to live by the Nike slogan: Just do it! ? That is ok, sometimes that is a real great advice, but right now I am giving you a new slogan, and yes, it sounds outrageous, but try it: Just be.

Me: Hey – hmmm, an improvement on the Nike slogan? Great, I like that! And it is even shorter than the Nike slogan, and less is more, so this is quiet cool.               I will try it.

And so I did.

Whenever I felt stressed, insecure or anxious, I stopped myself, took a deep breath and told myself: just be.

The beauty is, that in that moment I realise I am. I am everything, I am stressed or insecure, but I am also Imke, a human being, a woman, a creative spirit, a lover, a daughter, a friend… And I am part of this universe, I am love and I am kindness.

I (we?) often forget to firstly ‘just be’. Being is all we need to do.

There is nothing I need to do to be better or more accepted. We often put doing before being. When we remember to be and let our doing flow naturally out of our being, we start to live a more honest and happy life. We gain more strength and confidence in our actions, because they are fuelled by our true being and not by what we are told or tell ourselves we need to do.

Try it. For me it helps taking a deep breath, sometimes closing my eyes and then feeling into being. Consciously feel how I am being. Alive. Present. Aware.

It immediately calms me and gives me new strength. And it puts my fears of not doing enough or being perfect enough into perspective. I hope it might be the same for you.

And as a special gift I have created the image below and would love to send it to you in high-resolution so that you can either print it or use it as a screen-saver to remind you of this simple New Year’s resolution.

Just email me at imkerust(a)iway.na (Note: Please replace the (a) with an @ sign.) or leave a comment below and I will hurry to get it to you asap.

 

Wishing you a blessed and amazing 2015 filled with joy, love, health and abundance!

Just be.

Cats Raising Money for Cats

Everyday, when I switch on my computer, I look at this adorable fluff-ball:

The adorable fluff-ball Princess Clarissa

The adorable fluff-ball Princess Clarissa

She is my cat and she is a real princess.

She even has her own throne, on wheels, decorated with the insignia crown of her royal highness…

Princess Clarissa on her very own thrown.

Princess Clarissa on her very own throne.

She’s got attitude, she is goofy and does not care the least what you think about her odd lying positions and her aloof behaviour.

But, do not call her fat. Her sensitive heart is deeply hurt when somebody dares to call her fat – she will never honour you with another glance, never mind a purr….

And to rescue the situation her servant (ie me) has to explain, that she is not fat, it is just that her pretty head is a bit too small, and she has a lot of fluffy fur.

And no – nobody is allowed to touch her silky soft fur! That is just not on with royalty!

Her name is Clarissa.

Named after the great author Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

And Clarissa hails from the SPCA in Windhoek.

I am so grateful to have this little princess in my life and always try to support the SPCA. I believe that they are doing such important work and play a huge role in animal welfare.

Being an artist with a minimal and ad-hoc income I often was not able to support their work as much as I wanted to. But I have found ways and means to support the SPCA and Cat Protection Society of Namibia, for instance, by donating paintings of dogs for their fund-raising auction.

Recently I made a fun painting of a cat and shared it on Facebook. This painting reminded Ms Susanne Jaspert of her own cat, another cat hailing from the lands of SPCA, and she decided to buy this painting.

I was so excited that my pink cat painting found a loving home, as cats and paintings all need loving homes!

SOLD. Untitled, Ink & Acrylic on acidfree paper 170g/m2 29,7 x21cm

SOLD. Untitled, Ink & Acrylic on acidfree paper 170g/m2
29,7 x21cm

What better excuse to donate the proceeds to the SPCA? A cat painting helping the cats and dogs of the SPCA and supporting the work of the people who care for them.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because, I often felt helpless and too poor to help and yet there are so many ways to help out. It does not need to be in big ways. But maybe something you love doing can be donated or used in order to support a cause close to your heart? I hope that this might inspire you to find a way how you can help and remind you to go out and just do it.

Or to adopt your own princess or prince from the SPCA and let them sneak into your heart and soul.

And as I was preparing this post I searched through my photos to decide which pictures to use and as you can imagine, it is not easy if you have the cutest and goofy-est SPCA cat in the world. So here is a small selection which I just have to add, as they also give you a glimpse into how important this cat is in my art making.

Autumnal Equinox

Hello Autumn (leaf work by Imke Rust)

Hello Autumn (leaf work by Imke Rust)

Yesterday I realised that we have just passed the autumnal equinox…

Ahh, I have to accept that summer is definitely over and the days are getting colder and shorter. I fear the cold and was just about to feel miserable, when I decided I just need to make friends with the situation.

And what better way than celebrating the beautiful things about autumn, like the red and yellow leafs with some creativity?

The wild vine covering my soon-to-be studio is slowly turning red. It is really beautiful and I have already collected and pressed the first of these red leafs.

(Click on the photographs above to see a larger view.)

I had the idea to type something onto these leafs. It did not work too well… but I had the opportunity to sit outside in the garden with my old typewriter (which my husband found in the trash). Touched by the cool sun and struggling with the fragility of the leaves, the stubborn, faulty typewriter, no idea what to write and my miserable spelling skills, I started to feel better.

As a welcome to autumn (for those of us living in the northern hemisphere), I decided to share a few of the imperfectly perfect results with you.

The typing worked best on a larger green leaf from the cherry tree.

Dear Universe, thank you for the different seasons in nature as well as in our lives. Thank you for the summer that has passed and the autumn on our doorsteps. Thank you that the sun keeps on shining, no matter what & the stars return every night. Even if we do not see them, they are there for us.

A little prayer of gratitude: Dear Universe, thank you for the different seasons in nature as well as in our lives. Thank you for the summer that has passed and the autumn on our doorsteps. Thank you that the sun keeps on shining, no matter what & the stars return every night. Even if we do not see them, they are there for us.

I even tried to type on this white feather which I found in the garden, but it was not really successful, I guess the ink tape of the typewriter is to old and dry. But I liked the photograph 🙂

White feather with love by Imke Rust

White feather with love by Imke Rust