As 2012 draws to a close, it is customary to look back at the year that has passed and to the year ahead and reflect. In general I am a reflective person and it doesn’t take a date on the calendar to make me pause and think about my life and what is important. Through some hard lessons earlier in life, I learned to stop in the moment and try to be grateful for the big and small things, for the joys and challenges, and in doing so, savour life because it moves far too quickly.
Throughout this past year I have been blessed with the richness of friends, new and old, and they have made it my best year photographically. Not for the photographs because I haven’t made one photograph this year that blew me away but it has been the year in which I have grown the most in my photography. I have a much stronger sense of purpose for making my photographs and am much closer to clearly answering the question “Why This?”. The highlights were most definitely the Artist Round Table in July and my trip to Thailand in October but just as important to me were the conversations I had as part of the IDEA groups and those that I had with individual people when we had a chance to meet up. Every artist needs a community, people who understand the challenges–not that angst-ridden navel-gazing stuff–but the real life problems that come with choosing this life. Some of the best conversations I’ve had were around specific projects people are working on and how they are trying to solve a certain aspect that has brought them to a standstill. Others have been around figuring out what our vision is and I’ve been impressed with the persistence in not settling for mediocrity, in the push to go deeper until we finally begin to understand what drives us to pick up the camera to say something. Something important. There is no clearer example of this than the work we’ve done on Rear Curtain.
As I sit here on the edge of 2013, the words of David Brooks in his commencement speech to the graduates of Brandeis University come to mind.
Do you have the courage to throw yourself into the commitment hunt? Will you try on many different experiences and lifestyles to see which ones summon you? And the only final thing to say is that happiness is not achieved by chasing it directly. Your worth and happiness will be a byproduct of how zestfully you engage the commitments life throws in your path.
Most of us are egotistical and most of us are self-concerned most of the time, but it’s nonetheless true that life comes to a point only when the self dissolves into some larger task and summons. The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself.
I was once a starry-eyed business school graduate setting out to make my fortune on whose half-deaf ears this message might have fallen. Today these words have so much more meaning–and truth–to them. The satisfaction that has come from being a part of this small and growing community has not been matched by anything I’ve done before in the corporate world. Even a national award bestowed upon me by the Government of Canada doesn’t come close to the joy I felt when this year I received a simple Christmas card letting me know how much of a difference I made in one person’s life. The award is somewhere in a box in my garage but this card, and its sentiment that simultaneously reduced me to tears and brought a smile to my heart, is on my wall in my office. It is a warm reminder that this is important work and I’m very grateful to be doing it and hopefully I will do more in the year ahead.
Happy New Year Everyone!