I don't ever want to get to a point where I feel like I have nothing left to learn, or I've finally "made it" because I will always be learning and I want to keep growing and changing and stretching, becoming more me. I get into funks sometimes, when I'll get so sidetracked by what I like that I forgot about what I love. I'll see something beautiful (design, photo, word-wise) and subconsciously try to emulate it, only to find that it fits me like an oversized coat that I ordered online, or a pair of shoes two sizes too small. After awhile, the jacket starts chafing and the shoes really pinch and I discard them both to slip on something that fits just right.
I am learning to love who I am, as I am, and that means learning to embrace who I am as an artist. There are so many artists (writers, photographers, musicians, designers) that I admire and look up to, yet at the same time, I don't want to be them. I want my work to be fueled by my own fires, inspired by what I see, honestly created by myself. I don't want to be a second-hand artist, where my work is good, not great, because it imitates, not innovates.
There is such beauty in the quiet moments of real life. Sometimes I doubt myself, my art, that I really want this. I fear that I don't want it enough, that I'm not like those photographers who can't stop snapping and who's camera is like part of them. But then, I pick up my camera after it sits collecting dust and look through the viewfinder and start to see the beauty again. Not like this photographer sees it, not like that photographer sees it, but how I see it. I start to see the wild and quiet and simple and raw beauty of this life and I am again filed with that overwhelming ache, that never-ending excitement, that uncontrollable joy to be able to do what I do.
We can get so filled up by media and the internet and social networking and blogs and so on, and while they're not inherently bad, if we stuff ourselves with them, we have no room left to hunger and start creating. We need to have room to dream our own dreams, make our own work, be inspired by life as we see it. If we're constantly taking in everything, then we have no room left to be inspired by life (not pinterest, not blogs, not twitter).
Part of being a designer, photographer, and blogger requires me to be online, or at least on my computer, for good chunks of time. Yet, as the days pass and I watch people and life change in ways that seem all too swift and sudden, the poignancy of savoring this moment only strengthens. I don't want to look back and think, "where did all those years go?" Simplifying is always on my heart. I want to prune to allow more growth. Clear out the clutter so I have room to create. Turn off the phone, shut the laptop, and just live life, no distractions. Really live. Headfirst and laughter-filled and bravely.
Taking time to step back and remember why we do what we do is always a good thing. Breathers aren't only good for the head, they're good for the heart. Those days spent away from the noise of the media leave room to start seeing the beauty and the joy in the little, ordinary things. It's the difference between hearing a story and actually being there. One is vicarious, the other is living.
When I step back and pull away from media, stopping focusing on what everyone else is doing, saying, shooting, that's when I feel most comfortable in my skin, yet at the same time, when I experience the most growth. Because it gets to the point where I'm not doing what I'm doing because of so-on, but because of myself. It's not about writing a post, it's about living life. My heart remembers why I do what I do and my soul sings a resounding, "yes." And I remember in the midst of my doubts that this is what I was created to do.
Because I am a storyteller and I am an artist and I thrive on seeing the beauty in everyday life, celebrating the good in the ordinary, finding the joy in the midst of the pain. And sometimes, I get so sidetracked by what everyone else is doing that I forget that. That's why Woodland is so good for me. Because it allows me to take a step back, remember, reevaluate, and breathe.
To end an already verbose post with a several thousand words (because the old cliche "a picture is worth a thousand words" seems to ring true), the photos that inspired these words. I've been slowly going through the photos from Woodland and smiling at what I see. They're memories of a week at a place I love dearly with people I love even dearer. The last fishing trip and boat ride of Woodland 2012...some of my favorites.