What I did learn...
Stick out your hand and firmly shake someone else's. Look them in their eyes and be able to carry on conversation, whether they're the men selling fruit on the corner (best plums I've had in ages) or the photo editors of WSJ and Getty. Be true to yourself. Stick to your guns. Overcome your fears of insecurity and uncertainty ("fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life" -Donald Miller). Ask questions so you can figure out why people sacrifice relationships, comforts and their lives for something the world says is dying out.
I read in one of the books Van Agtmael handed to me about this photographer who'd failed at his marriage and the women in his life came and went but photography was his love. One of the women said, "What I don't understand is why you'd rather be lying in a ditch cold and hungry than in bed fucking with me." He left them all when an assignment came. The people we met, some of them have done this. Many have lost friends and loves for this.
My friend Joel's reading this book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller and it's all about story and Joel found this,"It wasn't necessary to win for the story to be great, it was only necessary to sacrifice everything."
This is one of my favourites from Blue Like Jazz by the same author, "Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way."
All of this week, I've been watching somebodies love something that I haven't really loved myself. I've flirted and maybe hit on photography - shoot, I've even developed a bit of a romanticized crush, but haven't loved it. You can feel a heart without feeling a body and you can feel a body without feeling the heart.
I want both. I want to feel the heart and body. Seeing Brian Storm, Fournier, Jones, and others who love it and sacrifice their lives for it has made it seem- ah, this is where I can spend all night eloquently forming words that express what I'm feeling or just spill it out. It was good to hear them speak.
The hours of frustration and work have begun to produce in me, at last, a growing love for this. It's starting to not matter if it's not perfect at first because I simply desire to do it. Ever since my first art classes at Anderson- where it didn't matter how late I stayed up, the monetary cost, the time, the saying no to going out- I've had to do something creative.
It's like it's in me, it eats away and threatens me and when I bore into the project with all of my energy everything else becomes secondary. I can run and run and run up, barely moving if I have to, pounding my feet on the hill wishing I could rest and wishing I were dead but knowing the top will be worth it. Like running up Cobb's Hill, running 8 miles around Iringa for hours without shoes, or rowing a 2K at 6AM on an erg. It's hard and you want to die and stop but the knowledge that one day there will be the slightest return makes everything else worth it. Cling to the water cooler later. You're better for it and there's a return. Then you do it again. And so you move. It's easier to direct a moving train than to get one going and I think my train is starting to pull away from the station. It's been going before but it had to make a stop and change direction.