Voices & Visions: Sean Seid

Sean Seid is a poet, photographer, and musician based in Florida, he is the author of his newly announced poetry book “The Love Inseid”. Sean shares with us a spiritual perspective on the creative process, and gives insight on how creativity and spirituality are more connected than we think.

Avery: I’m so excited to have done this interview! Sean is the first local artist I had the opportunity to talk with in person. Sean weaves art and spiritually together in a beautiful way. It was a joy to speak with him and I’m happy to have met him! Please stay until the end, and listen as Sean recites one of his inspirational poems. Now, please enjoy this insightful interview!

This is a transcription of the original video interview. This conversation is not perfectly accurate to the original.

-Why do you write poetry?

So much of our experience, we try to squeeze through language. We often feel like we have to be able to articulate what we're feeling or what we're thinking, what happened or what we want to happen, and language particularly, when it's used very logically or linearly, can be very constricting. I suppose so much of my study in life, has been how to de-constrict or liberate experience. Because I really feel like as humans, we are like funnels for grander experiences than we can often contain. There's so much going on, even beyond the spectrum of our senses, and so I feel poetry is a vehicle to deconstruct, to melt, to play with language, to stretch beyond traditional meanings, to synthesize ideas and images that you might not ordinarily put together if you were thinking very logically, but in a way that can often be much more resonant or true or even cathartic in situations where we're trying to express those deep down kind of experiences or the abstracts of our internal experience.

-What is the creative process for you when it comes to writing poetry?

I think it depends upon what type of work flow I’m in or what I'm writing for, or when I feel like I need to write. A large portion of this poetry (Sean’s book) was written to accompany images that I was producing. I got back into photography through the gentle persuasion of a friend, and I wanted to make them publicly available, but I wanted to have something more than just a simple caption, (for Instagram) so it really became like a weekly or even a daily writing exercise to create an image, which is usually a multiple exposure of a few different images, and then to write a poem about that image, or about something related to, or inspired by that image, or at times just things that were coming up for me in my day-to-day life. But really I used primarily Instagram as a way to archive and organize my work, that way it wouldn't keep getting lost in various journals and burned along the way, something that would actually allow me to accumulate and accrue enough of a body that I could eventually put a book together, which is the stage that we're at now.

-A common question I like to ask any artist is; have you always been creative since childhood?

I think there are a couple of different lenses to look at that. I remember I was definitely gifted in writing, and I was writing poetry from a very young age, which Ironically being told that you're gifted child can often be very stunting for your growth, because you feel like there's this role and this pressure to live up to, and so around age nine to eleven, when I started to become a “gifted child” my creativity was really suppressed because I was afraid that I had to live up to some unrealistic expectation of perfection. And I remember being afraid of drawing and painting as a kid because it seemed like all the other kids were much more talented at it. And this is like a very common narrative that especially comes up in our culture, that if you're not good at something immediately, then you shouldn't do it. Which a large part of my adult life has been undoing those narratives and realizing that creativity is inherit in “being”, we’ve been created by the natural, by this world, by the universe, and just by the very act of being, we’re co-creating, we’re manipulating, we’re moving things around, we're making sounds, we’re ingesting and digesting information, and then we're synthesizing new things that come out of our unique sense of being. And so I think the fallacy of the Western philosophy, that “some people” are creative, or that creativity is a “sometimes” operation. Which I really feel like every single moment, and what you're doing every single moment, can be viewed through that lens of creativity. You can even see that in people who have what you might consider a mundane profession, like a mechanic, that these people can be incredibly artistic in the way that they approach their work, and it can almost become like a flow state, or music to them. One of the messages that I really want to share with people is that we're all artists, I really feel like everybody is an artist, and we’re just at various  stages of coming to acknowledge and appreciate and that.

-Can you tell about your journey as a photographer

There were different phases. When I first got to college, photography was one of the first art classes that I took, and I learned how to use a film camera and to play in the dark room and that was really exciting for me. To go through that very magical and mysterious practice of learning about how cameras are actually interacting with light and transmitting it on to film, and how you have to be so careful and methodical to try to get that through the dark room process, and then you have something that is really unique, a well done filmed photo just has this gravity to it that is really profound. And so after college I just got into taking photos more regularly and of course cell phones became much more powerful every year and it became more accessible than having a bulky DSLR around, which I do play with, but ultimately I found cell phones much more accessible and therefore allowed me to be more in the experience of everyday life. To be able to constantly have that artists eye, like “look how the light is hitting that” or “look at the juxtaposition of these objects”, and so I think probably in the early days of Facebook, that was one of my favorite games, was creating interesting photos and learning how to use different filters, but ultimately what continued to draw me was multiple exposures, because I feel like multiple exposures allow you to put two things that might be ordinary or mundane together, and create something that's much more magical or much more alive then if you were to see them separately. And so again, cell phones became really incredible and maybe about two years ago I found an app called Snapseed, I highly recommend it to anybody who's interested in being more creative in their photography, because the tools are very accessible and very powerful. 

I was very resistant to social media for a long time, but a good friend of mine persuaded me to start creating and making it publicly available again, and so I approached Instagram as a platform to really focus on creativity, and sharing the unique expression of creativity that comes from me.

-Do you consider yourself spiritual?

You know, it goes right back to what we were just talking about with creativity, I think the underlying belief that I have is that; we're all spiritual beings having a human experience. In the early stages of realizing your spiritual nature, I think is kind of fraught with this type of identification that creates an “us and them” mentality, but ultimately I feel so many people eventually come to the realization of; oh, everybody is here having a spiritual experience. And even what we might call the mundane or the drudgerous, is just as much holy or miraculous as anything else. But I would say that a large part of my art and my creativity is really about that consciousness that goes beyond just being a YOLO (YouOnlyLiveOnce) human, that there's so much more to experience. And so a lot of my poetry in particular, is really about love, I think love is like an umbrella word that can very easily lose meaning if you're not sure what you're talking about, and so I think for me, love is like a doorway that invites you into the realization that we all are emanating from a common source, and that even as we see each other as different individuals, really, we are of a unified consciousness and the perceptions that we have, all of our differences and the things that separate us from each other, and from the world around us, to think these are all just aspects of illusion that our path ultimately allows us to detach from, and to see through, and to perceive a greater reality.

-What initiated this perception or way of seeing things for you?

Yeah, I mean, I'll tell you definitely was not being raised in the baptist church. I remember we went to church every Sunday until I was maybe about nine, and I hated it, it was, I don't know if I understood then, but I really I think I had a sense of the hypocrisy, that we were talking about this character, the whole religion is built around Jesus Christ, who had all of these messages of loving each other, but then there were so many messages within the church of hate, and separation, and judgment, and fear, so much fear. And so even as a child it felt like we were just kind of going through the motions and that the energy of that particular belief system wasn't really compelling or resonant to me. So I think like a lot of teens that went through different phases of like; oh I’m atheist, there's nothing besides this experience, or maybe I'm agnostic, I'm too small to have a perception and what's going on. And then through the experiences of my life I had felt experiences of being loved more than I could comprehend, I had felt experiences of connections between the natural world and myself, and between people, experiences of synchronicity, and magnetism, and just things that that defied explanation or comprehension, but let me know that there's something much more important happening here than being a law abiding citizen, and a good taxpayer, and consuming what you need to consume before you die. I think that lens is what allows me to keep my life in perspective.

-How do you put your insights and spiritual perspectives into your art?

In our world there's a lot of emphasis on what we're doing, and we try to find value in what we've accomplished or what we're accomplishing, what we can show that we have a degree for, or that we have merit from. There's just a lot of focus on the doing, and not as much focus on the being, but I feel that when people begin to tune-in to just being, and reconnecting with that naturalness and not needing or having anything that has to be done, to find some sense of value or worth, to recognize that in just being, all of the work that we could ever really desire is already there. We begin to connect with, who we really are, and then what we do, just becomes a reflection or expression of that depth of that trueness, of that realness. So I would say the messages that are getting into my art are just a reflection of who I am, and as I'm currently allowing myself to be.

-You do local art classes, correct?

I've been doing a once-a-month workshop behind Empathic Practice, called “art in the garden” and it's been using different mediums, we've only done two thus far; watercolor and collage. And really the art part of it is just a backdrop through which to explore playfulness, mindfulness, and really like liberating our inner child to be able to create and feel inspired again. The work shops have really been for me, a sort of a beta testing of a larger tree that I've been dreaming of for a long time. And for the first part of my release party (For Sean’s book) I’ll have full-length workshop that is going to include mindfulness and meditation, which is my background as a yoga teacher and meditation practitioner, but also our expression through singing, dancing, moving, and group dynamics, one-on-one, authentic conversations, improvisation, really weaving playfulness and mindfulness together as a way to explore life with a greater sense of spontaneity, like openness to the raw of the moment rather than of constantly pre-programmed patterns that feel safe and predictable but ultimately lead to limited experiences, or a kind of a dry experience of life.

-Do you do a lot of poetry reciting?

The open mic scene here in Pensacola is really phenomenal, I don't really know what it's like in other cities, I just know that over the course of the past eight or nine years I've been rocked by the talent in this town, and I think that constantly being in touch with inspirational people, those artists, that time and time again show up to share their heart and their soul through the vehicle of their work has really helped to grow me, and inspire me, and to keep me evolving. To realize that there's always growth potential, and we don't need to compare ourselves, it's not really a competition, but when somebody does something inspirational it reminds us what we're all really capable of.

-What do you love about the Pensacola Community?

I think what I love about this community that I've really found here, probably because I've been here long enough to find these various characters that are circling throughout our community, and I'm sure they're really everywhere, you just have to be able to find them, but I think that there are people who have reached a point in their path, that they feel like they are literal magic, and it's because they're just authentic, they're genuine, they’re real, they're honest, they show up in the moment, they’re present, they share who they really are, they’re not really hiding so much behind those veils. And what  impresses me so much about this particular Community, is just how many of them there are, (People) and not even artists, but when someone is living their life artistically, which is to say when they're really doing their inner work, their inner healing to be able to show up as themselves, that to me is like one of the greatest joys in life. Because it's that that allows  us to actually truly connect with one another.  Otherwise conversations can be more alienating than connecting, but with all of these beautiful people that I've come to know, in this particular Community, I feel very held, and seen, and supported, as a part of a family, in the context of a deeper sense of family, than I've ever really even known through biological family.

-Why should people write poetry?

The first thing that comes to mind, there's a poem I believe in my book, that says something to the effect of a poem: A poem doesn’t have to be much, it doesn’t have to change the world, or move the masses, it's just an opportunity to tell the truth, or not. And so I feel like to anybody who is curious or interested in poetry, just do it. If you feel lost in the woods, because there are so many different types of poems, and ways to approach poetry, and it can really be quite open-ended to somebody who's not used to it, start with something simple like a haiku, just five syllables, seven syllables. Enough of a framework, to allow yourself to start feeling confident and comfortable to start a piece and end a piece. And with anything, it comes with a daily practice, or weekly, however often you can commit to it, just showing up to that, you’ll begin to work off the layers of sludge and slurry that will be in the way. Don't be afraid to write garbage, it’s going to feel like that, but it's not, because it’s a part of the process of uncovering your genuine voice. I think that's my my primary advice, is just do it, and let go of judgments or at least just learn how to observe those judgments as they arise, poetry is an incredible medium, because it really does have a capacity to reveal things from your own subconscious, a little bit like how dreaming can reveal messages that you might have even locked away from yourself.

-Who inspires you?

I mean there's a long list I'm sure, but Ram Dass is probably one of my like most prominent teachers in my life, just the way that he approached his life with like a fixation upon how do we get to the genuine experience, how do we get to actually perceive reality, and realizing that so much of that is actually discovering love, and opening yourself up to, opening your heart up to love, and then learning how to love, anything and everyone, every part of your path becomes just more Grist for the mill, or fodder for your practice, to help you grow it. It totally reshapes your perception from things happening to you to everything happening for you, and it reminds me that that I'm a part of a larger experience than just me Sean Seid from birth to death, and that this really is, even in the moments that don't seem like it, everything that's happening, as Albert Einstein said; either nothing is a miracle, or it all is, and I come from the school of thought that this is all really rather miraculous, and so any teacher like that, that continues to to look out past the veil and remind us that there's more happening here. So, big props to Ram Dass.

-If you would be willing, can you recite one of your poems?

Sure, this is a simple one that I remember: 
“When I say that I love you, I mean I love you right now, not just in Destiny dreams, or in clouds that could be, and I'm not sitting around waiting for you to bring me jugs of milk and honey, I love you, even if you bring nothing more to drink than the salt of your struggle, and even with all of your room to grow, when I say I love you, it’s because I want you to know, you, are not alone, so from the front door of my heart, hear me calling, welcome home, welcome home.”

Thank You Sean!
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Want to see more? Check out our last interview with Film-Maker: Paul Howard

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