It’s my birthday this month, coupled with the new year, there is no better time for personal reflection. More recently, it has also become an opportunity for me to complete a self-inventory and write an essay to determine what is next for my journey.
Personally, I believe that there is “getting old”, and there is “growing older”. I choose growth, action. To be defiant in the face of time.
To be human; a flawed creature in an imperfect world floating adrift in a chaotic universe. While, I’m not going to let these flaws define me, I am also not going to simply act out of spite to avoid them.
Over the years, all of the walls I built around myself became the only home I’d known. It felt like a vault, nothing was getting in or coming out.
The first 40 years of my life were spent in opposition to change in the name of security. For the second act in my life, I’ve decided to openly embrace change and everything that comes with it.
While on my path, I’ve become well acquainted with even the darkest parts of myself and I feel confident that there is truly nothing to feel ashamed of. I have faults and flaws. I’m full of hypocrisy and duality like any other person on this planet.
My nature is one of the human condition and not the underpinning of abject moral failings.
In my life, I have tried lots of different things in the name of making myself happy; only to feel more alone or empty inside. I truly felt that I had nowhere else to go where I could feel loved, accepted and understood for who and how I am in this world.
So, I wanted to create that place for myself.
For some reason, I kept waiting for someone else’s validation, or someone else’s approval. like I needed permission to build the life I truly wanted for myself. When I think about how much time I wasted courting a false belief, it can make me sick sometimes.
Part of me wishes I hadn’t waited so long, but I am here now and that’s what counts! I’ve been running as though my life has depended on it ever since. Some days it feels like I will never get to where I want to be. The journey is long, and the road is hard.
Realizing that this is a marathon and not a sprint. If I am completely honest with myself, I also know that there is NO destination. I’ve still got a lot of work to do, yet sometimes I’m so close, sometimes I swear I can taste it.
Just a little over six years ago, I started off on this journey waking up naked on a bathroom floor covered in piss and vomit.
Now, it feels like I am walking through the mud from the person I was, towards about the person I want to become. The two points always seem like they couldn’t be further from each other, and each step is labored.
But that’s the significance of a journey.
Some of the best moments of my life have happened as a result of choosing to follow my trek. It is also true that some of the absolute worst experiences have occurred as well.
While I’m no one’s victim or martyr, and I am most certainly not a charity case; sometimes I am overwhelmed by contemplating how the odds are stacked against me. I can honestly say that I feel them every single day.
Also true, each day I strive to be a better version of myself, yet I can’t seem to grow at a rapid enough pace for my liking.
Sometimes I hyper-focus on my challenges and use them to make excuses. It sucks. But also, I have very real challenges. I’m just one person and I am so deep in this game, it’s hard not to get lost.
A lot of times this journey can feel like a waking dream, others it feels like this gift I’ve sacrificed so much for is just going to be ripped out of my hands. If I think about it too much, it can render me inert.
I’ve learned to channel that pain through my art. This process has made my art extremely personal to me, but also at the same I know that it is still not what I came to do. I know what I want to see. I also know that there are things that I need to say.
I need to do more of both. To be capable and willing.
Ultimately, I spent years building all these defensive mechanisms and protective layers, just to spend more to pick them apart to get back to the person I always was and meant to be in the first place.
At times it can feel like a lot of busy work or meandering.
However, I know my vision is crystal clear because my intentions have never changed. To search for beauty and truth in whatever form(s) it reveals itself to me and share them. I’ve dived in with reckless abandon.
Over time, I’ve learned that staying true to yourself is the quickest route to finding both. While I am on this path that I have blazed for myself, I hope for my spirit to remain intrepid and to be true.
Let me pierce this veil, see the illusion for what it is.
Speak my truth but also to practice that truth within myself. Even the ugliest parts of me are nothing to hide from.
As best I’m severely human, at my worst, I’m deeply flawed just like everyone else I know. It’s nothing to berate, but it’s also nothing to become accustomed to.
Making excuses for my flaws only serves to disservice the person I wish to become. If there are to be accidents or rough edges in my life let them be happy ones.
Like the happy accidents, all of my mentors used to push themselves to create. Let me master myself in all the ways possible and leave the rest to live and thrive inside of me. People will always treat me like I’m weird, but they keep on watching.
I must remember to give myself credit from growth where it is due. And realize that even my limitations at times can be both used to my advantage and be the cause of my issues.
Being present and aware is the first step of many in addressing this.
Sometimes I try to only think about the future, when I know I should be acknowledging the present. But doing so it always much easier than mentally reliving the past for the millionth time.
When I do imagine a better tomorrow; I can’t do it without involving some if not most of the people I’ve felt scorned by. It’s such a lame feeling to carry around.
It taints everything I do. Because what I share is public and by design, it is meant to be consumed that way. I just wish some of the people looking would shut up and/or quit looking altogether.
When I look behind me sometimes all I see is heartbreak and failure. If I remember to look ahead, it’s hard to acknowledge that more of both are in store for me.
When I am present and aware, I am happy. Because I know the path that I am on is one of my own design. No one can do what I do because I am working on becoming the best version of myself doing what I do best.
I never want to play the victim, but at times I feel like I’ve endured more than my fair share of hardships in life. Other times I’ve been slighted by my own hand, which is painful to acknowledge.
Perspective and attitude are everything. That gets lost on me sometimes. Not as much as it used to. Humbled to admit that my attitude can still trip me up sometimes.
Working on setting larger goals for myself. I’ve started realizing the mental limitations I put on myself have a real impact on my final outlook. It used to be that I could usually I can bully myself into accomplishing something.
But I’ve always known that method isn’t sustainable in the long run.
Moments of feeling hopeless are easy to let one crumble under the weight of apathy or even worse self-pity. I’ve had had extreme challenges and long periods of dormant plateaus.
I feel fortunate that I can recognize them and work to get out of them quickly.
Allowing myself to not be honest with my own shortcomings or fully acknowledge a real challenge versus a perceived challenge has allowed me to place limitations on myself. This is unacceptable.
The stakes are high and the issue at hand always feels so real, because without a safety net it most certainly is. I must remember that I always have control to some degree over my circumstances and I must always exercise my agency and my imagination whenever possible.
For me to become truly masterful, I must always consider. Ponder and wonder. Allow myself the freedom to ask, “what if”.
If I do not execute this simple task, then this is no longer a dream for me. What is a dream but a recess of the mind unexplored?
Allowing others to place their limitations on me, made me place limitations on myself. Anything that I’ve dreamed, I’ve achieved. To forget this would also be unacceptable.
I’ve put the work in to get here and I keep putting those hours in to stay here, been on my grind and I’ve stayed passionate.
It is challenging to constantly change gears. I want to become the best artist I possibly can. But it is a nonstop parade of varying chores and tasks. Taxes, inventory, scheduling, contracts, proofing, rendering, editing, etc.
When I am not tending to my business and clients, I can only focus on all the things that I haven’t accomplished yet for myself that I want to get done, it drives me nuts!
As a result, this year has been one full of marked transition. At times, it has been both exhilarating and at others exhausting.
I feel like I am yet another major crossroad in my journey and while not certain where my next step will take me, I will be excited to share that progress with you.
While I am on my way there, I hope you see my continued passion, obsession, dedication, and commitment. I hope you see a new level of candor, fearlessness, and a new altitude of skillset as I shape the colors of my world.
I am so appreciative of the time and the voice that I have been given, thank you for letting me share them both with you.
Things I’ve learned:
- When in doubt point the camera at something you love.
- To learn, point your camera at something that scares you.
- To take a good photograph: Tell a story or fill the frame.
- To take a great photograph: tell a story AND fill the frame.
- The truth can be ugly, but it is never boring. Find it & share it.
Things to ponder:
- What does a bigger dream look like?
- Where will it take you? Where do you want to go? Are they the same place?
- How long will it take to get there?
- What do I really want from this journey?
- What is it that you want to say?
- Which way will you say it?
Things to remember:
- Allow happy accidents to happen.
- Make a mistake(s) on purpose.
- No task must be routine or mundane.
- Any task that cannot be improved is redundant