As a kid, with my dad’s 110 camera, I’d try my best to capture something worth making him spend his money to get the film developed. Back then, your prints came back, neatly put together in a little booklet where the tape held it across the top and you could leave them like that or peel them off and put them in a frame or a photo album. So many times, he left every shot I took…just as I’d taken them. Those little books are still at my parents’ house somewhere, I suppose.
I think somehow, I always knew that photography and music were a part of me. There’s so much undeniable magic in both of them. It doesn’t matter who you are. Every human has been gifted this unique perspective of the world around them. That means, no one could ever take the same photo I could. Maybe they could take one of the same subject that could be technically better, but they’ll never see anything in this world with the same viewpoint as me. Something about that is magical to me.
Then, you have the whole being able to freeze time and memories thing. Anyone who has ever lost someone they love doesn’t have to be convinced of the magic that lies within stumbling upon an old photograph and getting to lay eyes on that person again when they thought they would never get the chance. When the picture in their mind had started to fade as if it had been left too close to the window and the sun was starting to steal all of the details it once held. Then, all of sudden, there it is. You can once again see every strand of hair, the shape of their chin…their eyes. For better or for worse, photos prove to us who was once there. Who wouldn’t want to hold onto something like that?
And still, music. Oh, music. The thing that ties us all together. I could go on forever, but if you’ve been reading my posts here, you already know my deep love for both photography and music.
Lately, I have had a million questions flowing through my already busy head. It started with me walking into my office and staring at my bookshelf that’s overrun with books. As I stood there, reading the titles, remembering people who’d gifted certain ones to me, realizing I’d owned some of them for years, and seeing the ones I have yet to make time to read, it hit me that I truly do also love writing.
Here’s the thing, I have always felt like a “poser” (listen, that’s what they called it when I was young, now it’s called “imposter syndrome” and that just makes more sense to me) when I was younger and wanted so badly to be a musician. That just never happened. Then, photography felt like it just happened to me. Maybe because it had been a part of me for so long that even with all the hurdles I had to clear, I’ll never feel like I had to sacrifice for it? I know I did, but maybe my love for it made it not feel like I was sacrificing anything? Even with all of that, it took me YEARS to utter the words out loud that I was a photographer. I didn’t feel I’d earned that title…even after graduating with a degree, even after starting my own business. Coming to terms with the fact that I’d set out to do this and I succeeded took YEARS for me. Maybe it’s that whole waiting for the next shoe to drop thing. I’m super comfortable with that feeling.
Anyway, staring at that bookshelf, it dawned on me that I don’t want to wait another decade to call myself a writer. So, I’ve decided to move forward with a book I started writing the summer of 2020. Whether I ever publish it or not doesn’t really matter to me right now, but finishing that story out, does.
I’ve bounced back and forth on whether I’d like to write fiction or memoir and I can tell you that’s a terrifying little game to play. On the one hand, my life certainly reads as the craziest fiction one could dream up, but I guess I’m never sure there is any beautiful takeaway for someone else from my story. That’s why just throwing myself into fiction is wonderful because I get to create a world I have never truly lived in.
Who knows what I’ll write, but now that the floodgates have been opened–thanks to all of you who have spent your time reading these posts and encouraging me, and to those of you who have read the not-yet-finished manuscript of my book and said, “I’m going to need more chapters,” well, you will most likely get them. I also started writing songs. That’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was in middle school. Perhaps it was just never the right time, and now it is?
That brings me to the question of how do we know? How do we know anything? Hindsight is always crystal clear, but man, going forward is like trying to drive through the clouds on a mountain road. You really do have to just turn on your lights, slow down, and pray for the best. While it’s scary, it’s also beautiful.
I started thinking about moments in my life when I knew I loved things or people. I knew I loved dogs when I got my first beagle puppy. I knew I loved to sing when I felt like it released whatever emotion was too much for me to tackle at the moment. I knew I loved photography when it felt like Christmas morning to open that sealed pouch to see if I actually took something worth saving. I knew I loved the ocean the first time I laid my eyes on it. I knew I’d fallen in love with someone with one lingering glance over their shoulder. I knew I loved helping people when I got to see where my being a tiny stepping stone allowed them to go next. I knew I loved reading when I realized you can travel anywhere the author feels like taking you and you never have to leave your house.
I’d always enjoyed writing because it’s how I figured out how I felt about life.
I knew I loved writing the first time someone connected with it and said it saved their life.
So, I believe we actually do know when. We always know. But we are sometimes way too logical and we don’t hold onto the things we know we love. We don’t fight to keep them close. We. Let. Them. Go.
My advice to you is that it is never too late. Maybe you can’t go back and change things like relationships (friendship or otherwise) that you lost along the way, but if it’s a place or a dream of doing something you love…it’s never too late to try that again (or for the first time).
I hope you pick up your pen, your camera, your mic, sit down at your sewing machine, hop in a kayak, hop on a plane, or whatever it is you love so much.
If you’re breathing, it’s not too late. Don’t waste your gifts. You’ll know they’re yours because you love them.