This year, this wild year, marked 13 years for Lady G and I as professional photographers. Wayyyyy back in 2010, right after the year tipped over and started fresh in January, we photographed our very first paid wedding together. Since that fateful day, we’ve traveled the world, more of these United States than you’d ever believe, to stranger locales than you’d ever plan a vacation to. We’ve photographed travel assignments, elopements, giant weddings in giant cathedrals, charity events, product photography, and a whole lot of photographs of each other being silly morons in so many beautiful places. This year also marked 13 years since I began sharing my poetry publicly, since I decided that Sarah was probably right, and the things I’d written needed to be released into the wild, just in case someone, somewhere, needed to read them. These anniversaries started the wheels in my rusty mind spinning, and started making me think strange thoughts about the future. A question of sorts, preceded by a statement, and at the end of this Signal Fire, I would love so much to hear Your answers. It is this:
“I would sell ALL I have to be able to…” or to phrase it as a question, “If money were no object, what would you do with the rest of your life?”
This should be the first question asked of us when we finish high school, shouldn't it? Instead of the clichè “what do you want to be when you grow up,” or “what college are you going to,” perhaps it should be deeper, it should be bigger. What would we do, if we could do anything at all, and never worry of money? What would we give up all we have, to be able to do, day in and day out?
If the winning lottery ticket was yours, if some benevolent benefactor decided it was you that deserved the massive inheritance, what would you do? The part of this that needs illuminating, however, the part that I think so often gets left out when people go looking for their own purpose here on this little planet is in a single phrase: When the newness wears off of the things you’ve chosen, will they still be the things you’re glad you chose? It is easy to imagine being a famous actor, singer, or athlete, it’s easy to imagine being the CEO of some massive company receiving bonus checks that could support a small country, but the question remains, when the newness of that life wore off, and it just became your actual life, would you love it still? Would you choose it, still?
For me it’s been photography, and it’s been poetry, and while I would admit some of the things I photograph do not inspire me greatly, there’s some strange magic and alchemy that happened when I watched the video Sarah made for our 13 year photography anniversary. It made me realize, that for over a decade, I’ve been making art, in some form or another. That for 13 straight years, I’ve been carrying around either a camera or a pen, but I’ve been making something from nothing, and what a gift that is.
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If I could do anything, I’ve always known, it would be to create art. It would be to create. It would be to pour out all the noise inside myself and feel better in doing so. I never dreamed I would actually be able to make a living doing this, and I never bothered to actually worry of making a living doing this. I did this because I had to do this, because it was the imperative of my soul, and I knew I had to rearrange the world to make that work. I believe I was put on this planet to make art, some kind of art, and that some of that art was supposed to reach the people it was supposed to reach to help them feel the things they were meant to feel. I don’t say this with ego, I don’t say it with anything other than honesty, I feel I was meant to be doing the things I’m doing. I say this because I believe, if I sold it all off, and could do anything at all, I’d be doing this, still, and while the subjects I photograph would maybe shift from bridal parties to wild animals or far-flung destinations more often, I’d still be doing it. What’s more, I’d still be writing, every single day I would be writing, even if I never made a single penny doing so. I would write because I cannot live without writing, because even after this newness has worn off, and after 13 years that is abundantly true, I am still writing, and if I am honest, since starting this Signal Fire I am able to write what is arguably my most favorite writing I have ever done. (That’s because of YOU, you subscribers who tell me every month that there is VALUE here, I cannot thank you enough. And if you want to join that community, you can do so by clicking the button below, we would love to have you.)
So this is where we should begin then, this is the question we should ask all those in transition, in a beginning brought about by an ending, be that school graduation or the leaving of a job, this is what we should say, this crucial question that’s also a haiku, today’s haiku:
What, if anything? What, after the newness goes? What are you here for?
Listen to their answer, hear them when they say it, and trust them to be right about the contents of their souls. We’re here for a reason, all of us, and when we realize that the reason has nothing to do with the money we can make, everything can change. Sometimes I really do wish there was some strange universal wage given to everyone by the government, that we spent less on bombs and more on people, and I wish that because I believe if we weren’t all so terrified of money, maybe we’d sort out what our true purpose is. Who knows, as I’m sure there are a million reasons this would never work, I just wish we all had the ability to chase down what really does set our souls on fire, what really does feel like the calling from the calling place, directly to us.
So, now you, what are you here for? Tell me, and if I can help you in any way get there, I will.
What are you here for?
What if anything,
what after the newness goes,
what are you here for?