Ruminations on my Journey - Part 1

'Rambling, long form, continuing blog posts of my personal discoveries... thus far.'

I'm trying a new, long form, blogging style in this post. I'll be revisiting it often. I'm going to use it as a mental dump, a place to share some inner thoughts and discoveries. Although the topics that I'll discuss here may not be purely or strictly 'photographic', they are deeper parts of me than I haven't shared with the general public before. They do make me who I am today, as well as guide how I act in the future. Perhaps you will find some common ground with them, or something will resonate with you. If so, I hope you'll chime in and leave a comment. 

Perhaps it is all TMI for you. That's fine, I'll have plenty of other blog posts with pictures of Alaska, tips, tricks, travel factoids, etc. that I think you'll find fascinating. 
To each their own. 

Staring at a blank page, unsure of what I want to write about.

Unsure of what I should write about.

It is kind of a peak at how I have been feeling about this upcoming summer.
I know one thing, this summer's ultimate goal is honesty & transparency.
Not only with myself, but with everyone around me.
So let's start off with some honest writing. Shall we?
Late last year, we negotiated a large print sale with the State of Alaska.
The result of that sale has allowed me to take an (admittedly selfish) break from 'normal' life.
What is 'normal' life?
It is 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. Punching that proverbial time-card.
More often than not, I imagine punching it square in the keyboard.
All the time, I imagine not punching it at all.
I have what so many don't.
A full time job, with benefits.
Benefits like a retirement plan, and health insurance.
Ironic that my job creates enough stress that I should need to take advantage of that health insurance on a regular basis.
More ironic that I have no desire to retire, only to do work that is truly fulfilling and expressive.
As seemingly fulfilling as eye care should be, I've become numb to it after nearly a decade and a half of it.
Who doesn't think 'improving someone's sight' would be rewarding?
And therein lies the problem.
It has become a task.
An exercise in patience.
Do you know the origin of that word? Patience?
It means 'to suffer'. If you are a patient somewhere, it is because you are suffering.
Likewise, if you are being patient with someone, you are suffering them.
I have been forced to be patient for over 15 years.
And I am not a patient person.
That's the dilemma of being a full time creative, living a part time lifestyle.
It's draining and unfulfilling.
Before you judge, no - I'm not looking for pity.
Direct that to someone deserving of it, or at least more eager to accept it.
Looking back, I had spent the vast majority of my (short) life in a team environment.
In grade school, I played soccer and competed on the local YMCA swim team.
I remember enjoying the soccer, and the social aspect of the swim team.
Not so much the swimming portion.
My dad is a former swimmer - he competed alongside Olympians when he went to college at UNC, Chapel Hill.
He's an incredibly competitive person, and I think it was more his dream to see me swim competitively, than my own.
I don't hold that against him, not one bit. And I wouldn't change my early years, not one bit.
Swimming taught me some great life lessons.
School taught me the same one. Over and over.
Life lesson #1 - If your heart is not in it, if you don't feel passionate about it,
reserve your energy for something you do have passion for.*
No, I didn't do well in school. Not by a long shot.
Truth be told, I never should have made it to college in the first place.
I'm honestly not sure I should have made it to my sophomore year of high school.
Yeah… I kinda sucked at the whole school thing.
Unless it was a subject that really interested me - then I was a fiend.
Unless the teacher didn't understand my enthusiasm and tried to control my output - then I was an imp.
If psychologists back then had all the acronyms that they have in their tool chest now,
they might have diagnosed me with ADHD.
But I think that deficit of attention was only due to my lack of something to focus on.
The only disorder I suffered from, was that I hadn't found my passion yet.
I hadn't found focus.
Sometime in late grade school/early high school, I started another competitive sport.
Shotgun shooting. Skeet, in particular.
My father got me involved in this as well.
But this time, rather than him having a history in the sport, and me carrying on in his footsteps - we started at the same time.
It was something we could do together.
The days we spent practicing and competing together are some of my fondest memories.
Here was a sport where focus was paramount.
Not only for safety, but also for success.
I learned that I preferred sports that were solitary in focus, rather than depending on teammates.
When I was in college (I liked it so much, I dropped out. Twice.), my friends used to tell me that I was so lucky.
"You know exactly what you want to do with your life. That's so cool!"
They were stuck, albeit younger and less 'exposed' in their first go around with college.
I had spent the past 3 years in the Army, a good portion of that time was overseas - in Bosnia.
While in this war torn region, I was exposed to incredibly beautiful scenery.
I had to document it.
When I returned, I was 3-4 years older than my classmates.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do. It's the same thing that I want to do right now.
Witness something beautiful, record it, and share it in a visual medium.
Create art through photography.
My classmates, on the other hand, had no idea what they wanted to do.
And those few that did, already had learned a difficult lesson from older siblings or friends.
Or soon would.
Even after sticking it out in college for 4 (or more) years,
it was highly unlikely that you would be able to get a job in your chosen field.
It was a piece of paper that showed that you conformed to someone else's rules.
Someone else's expectations for what would make you a productive citizen.
A productive citizen that fills out cover letters and resumes extolling their impressive ability to function in a
collaborative environment. A team player.
"I play well with others".
Except for my time in the military, I was beginning to learn that I didn't thrive in a team environment.
Not in a fulfilling way, at least.
I too was stuck.
Except I was stuck by my goals and dreams, rather than by not having any.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but I had no way of doing it.
Or perhaps I never knew how to approach it.
And that's exactly where I've been since.
I've had moments of revelations.
I get vacations, where I usually schedule photography trips.
I lead photo tours in Alaska.
I go on day (and multi-day) trips to focus on my photography.
But it always seems that there is something looming in the near future.
The return to the unfulfilling. The return to the time-card.
This summer/early fall is different though.
I'm using some of our earnings from last years print sale to take time off from work.
I'm taking the next two and a half months off from that time-card.
I punched out for the last time, on Friday at 5:04 pm.
I won't be punching back in until Monday, September 16th, at 8:30 am.
I'm going to focus.
*This is not meant to be a 'truth' for everyone. It's just mine.