As luck would have it, a part of my life that I was very connected to and passionate about came to an abrupt end last year. When all was said and done I was upset and looking to heal my wounds and move on. What I found was something that I wasn’t expecting at all… time! And a lot of it. Time to invest in myself. Weird! What I also found was one of the most caring, devoted mentors that I’ve ever had the opportunity to know.
A friend of mine told me about a very skilled artist he had studied under. He pushed that I go meet with him, and I am so glad I did. It was exactly what I needed at the time. This wonderful human being opened my eyes to so many beautiful parts of the art world. I gained incredible inspiration from him and started to work on several interesting challenges. I even started painting, which was a first for me! I learned about furniture design and classic paintings, I watched wonderful documentaries and hit the streets to meet people I never would have talked to before while photographing. I was very lucky being in this supportive environment seeing that I really needed some positivity. I was able to focus some of that dejected energy into some new, creative work. Awesome stuff.
So this goes out to all the wonderful mentors out there (especially you Sir Mossman). Those who are talented in their own right and yet devote themselves so fully to the enrichment of their fellow artist’s lives, even just to see a glimmer of excitement about the craft, have my deepest respect and gratitude.
Sometimes you just have to brace yourself and jump into the water. It doesn’t matter if your eyes are closed or if your face hits first. It’s unimportant if you’re scared or have never tried that thing before. What’s most significant is that you do something rather than nothing at all.
You may have no clue what inspiration or morsel of wisdom lies just beyond your doorstep waiting to be picked up and put to use. None of us do, but that’s the beauty of it.
If your confidence is low – it doesn’t matter. If people tell you you’re not good enough – it doesn’t matter. If you tell yourself you’ll never get there – it doesn’t matter.
Can’t jump in the water? Put one little toe in, even when it’s excessively cold. THAT is what matters.
If you are intimidated – do one small thing. If you think you don’t have the proper education – do one small thing. If you don’t have the money or means to accomplish it – do one small thing.
Don’t listen to the bullshit that follows your impulses. That first inclination, that’s you.
Do it for yourself. Do it for the world.
A woman with deformed arms is asked what she thinks life would be like had she been born ordinary. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, it’s all I know,” she explains. She has lived her entire existence being judged, relying on others to do such basic things for her such as getting dressed and combing her hair, things we take for granted. But all these trials have made her stronger. Once she was asked to disrobe for an outdoor gallery installation to challenge society’s thought process of what ‘normal’ is. Her ‘normal’ is something most people are mortified to look at, but normal is relative. She had never attempted anything like it but realized that she had nothing to lose. She was empowered by inviting the attention by choice, owning what she has and feeling the most beautiful she’s ever felt. Another person, a man born without limbs, preaches about living life to the fullest. How can he do that? He seemingly has it worse off than all of us, yet he finds his purpose through his disability. He touches the hearts and minds of those around him in a way that only he has been gifted to do. Some may look at him and take pity or shun him as an outcast but he decides to focus on being complete on the inside and no longer lets himself feel depressed.
So, how are there so many of us, completely intact, that never question why we nitpick the minute details of our physique? We allow ourselves to do this every single day. We keep covered in so many ways, insecure, thinking we have so much to lose if we expose ourselves. What would happen if people were to see our imperfections? Would we strive even harder to show who we are on the inside if we knew we couldn’t ever be perfect on the outside? Could we easily throw caution to the wind and not worry about the smaller, less significant things? One’s outward appearance can seem incredibly beautiful to look at but being whole on the inside far surpasses a materialistic identity. I have learned this wisdom from “imperfect people” and they have educated me in some remarkable ways.
You determine your beauty and worth.
I’m desperate for the dust that once lined my heaving lungs. I can not differentiate between what is worse, my ravaged heart, distant, beating for no one or the comforts of home and familiarity amidst impoverished streets. I miss the scents, and playing in tattered clothing. I miss the old man telling his stories that had more wisdom and character than any modern day television set I sit in front of now. My memories still keep the long sleeved shirts we transformed into soccer balls and the sunlight which picked up each and every particle in the warm summer glow. The golden days were ours. We didn’t have much but we certainly had everything.
Years ago I was told I needed structure in my life. She was old this woman, and I was a contrast to the wrinkles time had given her. I had a lifetime of youth on my side, a hundred unplanned years that I wanted to live out the way I saw fit. I nodded, claiming that I heard what she had to say. But I continued to do whatever I wanted. I fought so hard to keep hold of this freedom!
Years forward I stand in the shadow of her words, reveling in the satisfaction of my freedoms intact. She’s long gone and I’ve loved the adventures I’ve ventured to find. I am happy in my choices, but feel a lingering sorrow in moments of dullness, in my disorganization, when my thoughts jumble because I don’t know what I’m to do next. When I’m driving in my car I feel that she’s right there with me still whispering these words for the taking: “My child, you need structure in your life.” I agree and yet still I fight the mere thought, in detestation of this concept called ‘”structure”.
I am frozen some days but wisdom tells me that the snow eventually melts with the seasons. I will grasp my many moments of clarity when I am inspired and continue marching to the beat of my own drum, even though on occasion her words might be right. My rebellious soul will always be free, even if one day structure does enrapture me.
There is an old saying that “lightning never strikes twice in the same place.” Well the amazing people at Nikon Owner Magazine have given me this beautiful opportunity to become an exception to that rule. I could not feel more honored to represent this brand, as well as having my work presented on a worldwide scale. I have been a subscriber to this magazine for years and am in love with their design, quality and esthetics in each and every issue. They have an incredible ability to incorporate the unique work of passionate photographers from around the world, presenting breathtaking images in various formats.
May I present to you the most recent cover of Nikon Owner Magazine, featuring my photography. There is an article inside featuring eight pages of my work, so please have a look!
Lean muscle inside a shell. Serious eyes. Through these long tunnels of branches I rise, the hunt for meat has had me crouching on hands and knees.
I watch you from afar, head cocked gazing off into the distance. It takes every ounce of will to hold my body still. When the time comes the capture will be swift. You are a slow-moving creature, lost, small, pinned inside this hard exterior for years.
For me every breath is a struggle. Without your arched nuances exhaling life into the inner lining of my being I will not survive.
I am a creature of this earth, for this I should not be feared. I wait for the instance to dig you out, to taste your decadent core.
Why have the others not yet pounced? Perhaps they listen for the creatures that squawk at the dawn, only to discover they are simply empty, blaring, transitory sirens across the horizon.
You view the world in black no matter what time of day. I wish for my face to be the first thing you see when the light shines in.
It can be said that on occasion, our greatest pain intersects with the greatest love of our lives. If we cut ourselves off to living, to not feeling what we think we can’t bear, we may just be cutting ourselves off to the greatest achievements of our lifetime. The calm before the storm. Attempting the unknown. Jump head first, you may otherwise never learn that you’re capable of creating more than you ever thought you could. You may never know because of being scared.
And what is scared? A feeling. A feeling that will stick around until you tell it to go. This feeling has a way of dispersing once we confront what seemed impossible, not allowing ourselves to go ahead. That’s our responsibility. Inhibitions will never apologize for their actions. They’re only there because you give them that permission. They can make your world feel so small. They make your stomach churn with anxiety. They put words in your mouth such as “can’t”.
Let them go. Banish them from your daily life and vocabulary. Do one thing today that inhibitions would hate, because after all, you always had that rebellious soul that couldn’t be stopped from anything but yourself.