I came across a video via Twitter a few weeks ago that absolutely scared the HELL out of me! I mean, it was amazing…but I was literally shaking watching it. My heart was pounding, I was breathless.
This was a strong reaction to have – but then again, this isn’t the kind of video you see every day.
In fact my first thought after watching it was: If you could do this, what in life could you NOT do???
Here it is, if you want to take a look:
I admit: I have pretty much no desire whatever to mountain climb – much less mountain climb without ropes! But I’m absolutely in awe at Alex Honnold for doing it.
And that leads me to my second thought on watching the video. Which was: I’d love to take pictures of somebody doing that!
Photography compels me to notice things I wouldn’t otherwise notice – to live moments in a very aware way. I think it would be so interesting to witness and record a feat like Alex Honnold’s – to experience it through photography.
And that’s a fairly typical reaction for me anymore: “I’d love to take pictures of…X.” The urge isn’t limited to extreme sports either! Photography has become something of a framework for – well, pretty much anything I want to do at any given moment. From traveling to self-expression to just day-to-day living, photography has begun to wrap itself around every part of my life. It’s completely changing the way I approach…everything.
It’s gotten so that in the last few weeks I’ve actually begun worrying about it. I can feel myself getting pulled out, like a powerful tide, to places I hadn’t envisioned myself going – artistic places (and through that to “life” places.)
It’s a wonderful feeling, really. It’s exciting. It feels like I’m standing in a doorway – and right on the other side is the most startlingly beautiful world. All I have to do is just put my foot down and start to walk – just give myself permission to explore. It’s RIGHT THERE.
But the problem is: what if I do? What if I give in to this urge and just GO? Let the tide sweep me out and away from where I am? It’ll be fun…yes. Stimulating…even fascinating.
But…how do you come back from that? How do you go back to where (and who) you were?
I don’t think you do. And I don’t know what that means.
I’ve been worrying about that.
I just don’t want to mis-step right now.
But…I want to walk through that doorway. It’s not an urge I can shake off (I’ve tried.) It goes too deep to ignore it or talk myself out of it.
I mean, I suppose I could – ignore it or talk myself into inaction. But I can’t do that and cultivate mindfulness and authenticity and all that stuff that I keep writing about here. If I’m going to live mindfully and in a way that’s true to me, I can’t stuff my own desires.
I guess it’s come down to that.
Yes, I’m very much a beginning visual artist/photographer. Yes, that means it’s not particularly practical to devote a lot of time and energy to mastering my ability to express myself in those areas. And using my time that way is going to mean that I don’t advance in other areas to the degree I’d hoped and planned.
It’s just getting harder and harder to care about that.
And then I watch things like that Alex Honnold video and I find myself thinking how climbing a mountain without ropes isn’t particularly practical either. But what an accomplishment!
And not just the physicality. It’s about overcoming obstacles (getting strong enough to do it, working with the danger, etc.) It’s about testing yourself and trusting yourself.
And I’m thinking that maybe I should do that. Maybe I need to allow myself to do that.
Maybe it comes down to believing in yourself…and having a little bit of faith in your own instincts. If you want something so badly, maybe there’s a reason for that.
I’ve started thinking that maybe what I need to do is just get out of my own way.
So here goes.
This (I see now) is what I’ve been moving toward for the last three years…with increasing acceleration in the last six months. This is the heart of what’s had me a bit freaked out and fretting in the last six weeks or so. It’s about this reality – the acknowledging of which marks a pretty big shift for me.
I don’t want to be a writer.
And the reason for that is because, while I like to write (a lot actually), I don’t care about writing. It doesn’t move me. It never really has.
That thought just came to me in the last few days…and shocked me when I realized it was true.
Writing has always been a part of my life – but it’s always been the means to an end. Somehow I never grasped that before.
For me, it’s never been about writing for writing’s sake. I’ve never been compelled to put words on paper (or computer) because writing was my natural medium – even though words have always flowed well for me, and I’ve found satisfaction in the process.
No…I’ve always engaged in writing as a means to an end. Always. And it was those other “ends” that meant something to me, not writing.
I wrote as a little girl because I loved acting – in actual plays or playacting or, when there were no other options, casting my dolls as characters and directing them. I used to read books of plays all the time – and when I was tired of my choices, I’d write my own.
There was this transcendent feeling I would get as a little girl, when I was acting on a stage or even playing those games of pretend. The world was painted in brighter, bolder hues. Every moment was worthy of savoring. There was a strong sense of being alive – of being fully immersed in life. It wasn’t just about expressing something through acting a part; it wasn’t just about the end result. It was everything about the process, start to finish.
And I’m remembering what that felt like with such clarity right now because that’s how I feel about photography. And I’ve never ever felt that way about writing (or about very many other things, actually.)
I think that’s important. How can it not be?
In high school and college (and later too), writing was escapism – in high school because I was bored and dissatisfied and in college and beyond because, while I was much less bored, I was much more dissatisfied…and at times very unhappy. Writing gave me the means to leave the world I lived in and enter another – and it felt good.
It’s occurred to me in the last few days that it’s perhaps inevitable that I’ve reached this point of dissatisfaction with writing – because when I made the decision three years ago to get divorced, I began to remake my life in a new and unique form. And escapism doesn’t fit that endeavor – at all. I don’t want to escape from my life now; I want to grab onto life and make it everything I want it to be. I want to live it fully.
Photography aids that in pretty much every way. But writing doesn’t – not for me.
And that right there explains, I think, why of all forms of writing it’s blogging that I find most satisfying now.
I blog to record happenings, to untangle confusions, to share ideas. It’s about community and about conversation. It’s about dreams – but it’s not about escapism. For me, it’s a purer form of expression.
I definitely want to continue blogging.
I honestly don’t know where this is going – where this “tide” I’ve decided to let take me away is actually taking me.
In regard to photography: I don’t even have decent equipment! I have a basic digital camera and a book I just bought about GIMP; that’s it. So for the foreseeable future I’ll just be taking a lot of pictures for practice and then messing with them as I teach myself GIMP.
But that’s a first step anyway.
For the next one, I guess I’m just going to keep my eyes open – and trust that I’ll recognize it when I see it.
I think it might just all come down to trusting yourself: Life, art, happiness…all of it.
We’ll see, I guess.