This post doesn’t have any photos. It doesn’t need any. I know… you’re saying, “but wait, this is a photography blog – come on, where are the photos?”
Photography isn’t just about the images we make – the final product that hangs on a wall or gets printed in a magazine. It’s as much about where those images come from – what inside us has inspired us to make those images. Inspiration is fundamental to the creative process. It’s what makes us do what we do. It’s about the things that move us to express ourselves in our creative medium.
Some of the photography blogs I’ve been reading lately have posted about how to achieve your dream of being a photographer. Making a living at photography isn’t easy. Thanks to the digital revolution, there are tons of photographers out there and so the whole field has become orders of magnitude more competitive than it was. Many people balk at the idea of giving up a good job to do the thing they love – photography – the thing they’ve dreamed about for years, but for a variety of reasons, seems too risky to pursue.
About a month ago David duChemin posted something on his blog that really struck me. He echoed my feelings exactly – that you have to have the courage to live your dreams. Life is short. You can’t sit back and wait for your dreams to happen, or pine away for unrealized dreams. Make them happen. Get busy. Take risks!
I feel incredibly, unbelievably lucky in that I have realized many of my dreams. As a kid I was a dreamer. I’d ignore math lessons so I could gaze out the window and dream of all the things I wanted to do with my life. I spent a huge part of my childhood dreaming. I wasn’t your ‘normal’ kid. I didn’t swoon over Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson, some of the heart throbs of my childhood days. Nope, instead I dreamed of other things – things that wouldn’t even be on the radar screen of any little girl.
I came across something lately that affected me very deeply, in a number of ways. I literally just tripped over it, unaware of the impact it would have on me. It reminded me of my childhood, filled with dreaming. It reminded me of the incredible adventures I’ve had during my life. And it reminded me of the most important teacher, role model, mentor and friend in my life. The most incredible person I have ever known – my Mum. She taught me, by example, how to life a good life. She passed away last November, after a heartbreaking 15 month illness. I’m still struggling with coming to terms with that huge, huge loss. I’m still heartbroken. And I guess it’s made me very introspective lately. That’s why, when I tripped over this thing recently, it really struck me to my core. A quote from this thing I tripped over really resonated with me. It reminded me of my Mum. It reminded me of my own life. And it reminded me that we should not be afraid to dream and to work hard to achieve those dreams. Achieving those dreams involves risks. But without that hard work and willingness to take risks, those dreams may very well sit on the shelf, unfulfilled. Here’s the quote that resonated with me so deeply –
“It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how you live your life. If you lead your life the right way, karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”
Wow…. if you lead your life the right way, the dreams will come to you. I wish I’d come up with those words myself.
Those words came from Randy Pausch. I’m sure many of you know Randy Pauch’s story. I didn’t. I was living in New Zealand at the time and for whatever reason, I didn’t hear about it. If you don’t know his story – Randy Pausch was an engineering and computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. The university had a tradition that at the end of the school year, one of its faculty would give a talk for their special lecture called, The Last Lecture. The idea behind the Last Lecture is if you knew you were dying and this was your last lecture – your last chance to say something important, what would you say. The irony here is that in fact, Randy Pausch was dying – of pancreatic cancer – one of the most lethal forms of cancer. He passed away at the very young age of 47. My aunt passed away from pancreatic cancer 14 years ago so Randy’s story has even more significance for me.
I could spend the rest of this post paraphrasing what Randy said and talking about the significance of his words and what he did during the last several months of his life. But I think I’ll let Randy tell his own story. You can watch his hour long talk, The Last Lecture, on Youtube at:
I would highly, highly recommend that you watch it. It’s profound. It’s fun. And it’s inspirational. There is nothing I could say that would add anything to Randy’s message. Just watch it. And think about how you live your life. What dreams you have achieved. What dreams remain unfulfilled and what you are going to do about it. And more importantly, how you want to live the rest of your life.