Sometimes, despite our best laid plans, we simply don’t know what the future has in store for us.
There are times in our life where we’re certain of what we should be doing and see the path laid out clearly before us. Other times however, the path is not so clear. I’ve found the latter to be even more prominent in my years as a full-time photographer. There’s simply no way I could predict many of the paths I’ve gone down and opportunities I’ve had, but it hasn’t come without it’s stresses.
If you’re anything like me, then you know how difficult it can be during those uncertain times where your future seems unclear. We want to feel like our efforts are being directed towards a specific goal, but honestly, sometimes we just don’t know what the goal should even be. It’s very easy to feel like we’re wandering aimlessly in the dark just waiting to hit a wall. As a result, we tend to move into “existence mode” (read my last post here about the difference between “existing” and “living”). We try to simply get by each day being as productive as possible, but hoping that today will be the day that our future presents itself. After all, it’s hard to actively pursue a future that you cannot see. …and that’s the thing about being a photographer, the future is always uncertain! Even when we know the path we’re on is a good one, we still have no idea what our future holds. Clients change, styles and fads change, the photographic industry changes, technology changes…it seems like everything constantly changes. Some of the main things we seek out as humans are comfort and stability, but it seems like photography doesn’t often allow for either of these.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Does having an open ended future make things more difficult? Sure. …but it also means that we have an open ended future! Sometimes we need to focus on how exciting that is. After working nearly sixteen years in a corporate environment, I know how “safe” feels. I know the mundane, soul-sucking existence that comes with watching every minute of the clock and wishing life away. I remember all too well how it feels to know that today will be just like yesterday and tomorrow will be just like today, with no end in sight. But let me get you in on a little secret…even that is a facade. It’s an illusion of a future, because in reality, we ultimately have zero control over the “big picture”. There are so many things that can happen from one day to the next that have the potential to change your life and your future forever…if we’re even around to experience it at all! Life is fragile and we need to treat it as such.
Now that doesn’t mean that we should do everything we can to live a “safe” life. What it means is that we need to understand that life on this earth is fleeting and we have no guarantee to be part of it tomorrow. We need to realize that moving ourselves into a position which has an open ended future, full of possibilities, is the only way we will ever begin to experience “living” over “existing”. As photographers, we have the opportunity to experience life without a pattern or map that we need to conform to every day. Is the unknown scary? Of course…but it can also be exciting! I have no idea what this year will have in store for me, but I know that I am pursuing the avenue that God has laid out before me. As long as I keep my eyes on Him then I have nothing to fear!
I can say with full confidence that after each passing year, my only regrets are chances that were never taken. Yes, there have been some tough times since beginning my career as a full-time photographer…but if I could do it all over again, I would have started even sooner. Don’t let life pass you by anymore for the sake of playing it “safe”. If you really want to start living, seek God’s plan for your life then jump in the deep end. It will be frightening, it will be uncertain…but when He promised that He will never leave us or forsake us, He meant it!