A few months back I ran into an old friend.
The wife and I had been at the bookstore and this old friend walked up smiling and chatting just like we had seen each other a few days before instead the year or more it had been. He’s one of those people who always seemed gung-ho and raring to go, had a plan and was always advancing on his goal.
“Whatcha’ doing up here?” I asked.
“Picking up this magazine,” he held it up and opened it to a page toward the center. “They did an article on me and my company and I just needed to pick up a copy.” We talked for a few minutes about the article, checked out the images that were accompanying it, and he pointed out some interesting stuff about it. Then we moved on to some of the photos I had seen on his Facebook account, him with famous people, and how impressed I was.
“Well,” I said, “Looks like a must read, let me grab a copy too.”
“Cool, let me know what you think.” Then he asked, with absolutely no trace of arrogance, damnation, or a holy-than-thou attitude, with honest curiosity “How’s the photography going? You still writing?”
I hesitated for a moment. I had some good things happen with my photography as of late; a nice series of gigs with a music promoter shooting shows and a few other unrelated gigs with local musicians. I even had been collaborating with a local artist on a graphic novel. Despite the fact that I had completed the script and the artist never bothered to do any of the art for various real world reasons (is that still collaboration?) I was damn proud of the work. But, I felt, it was nothing compared to the accomplishments he had made since we had really seen each other. I told him about it, and I swear I could see just a hair of disappointment, which he quickly covered up with a flashy smile. We agreed to get together later that night at a skate park and hang out.
For the next few weeks, I watched him online through his social media accounts. He was travelling to various shows related to his business, posting pictures of himself and the people he met, showing the masses his latest work that was in the pipe, and all the time having that confident smile on his face. I admit, I was jealous; not because of what he had and was experiencing, but because I had not pulled the trigger myself to take the steps I needed to advance my own passions.
I sent him a text a few weeks ago, asking if I could get a little time to come out to his shop and photograph him and some of his latest projects. The message back was positive and inviting, and I ended up spending 6 hours in the middle of the night photographing him at work and his products. We asked questions of each other and closed the gap of time a little more. Then he brought up my own works.
“I’m just having a time getting it going.” I said. I knew it was an excuse. “I work my real world job and try and squeeze in writing time when I can, try and get out and take some photos when the obligations allow. It’s tough. An 8 plus hour day and then my family, which I love, it’s hard to make time.” He looked at me, and I knew he didn’t buy it.
“I haven’t work for anyone but myself in sixteen years.” He looked at me for a moment. “Man, you just got to get it out there! Even if you don’t feel it’s your best, get it out there, sell it, and replace it when you got something better to show!” We talked about it a little more, and I honestly felt deflated.
Now, I didn’t feel deflated because of anything he said, it was because of what I had said. His words were inspiring. Mine, on the other hand… I was using my family and the real world job as an excuse. I knew this. But this guy, without actually using the words, called me out on it. You see, while he has not been married quite as long as I have, he has more kids than me, and is younger than me.
Yea, talk about a kick to the pants.
I got home and was going over some of the photos with my wife. She was amazed, but after a little bit, sensed something was wrong. So I told her. I told her about what I had said to my friend, his reply, and how right he was.
She looked at me with that look that was known to send student into cold sweats. The, quietly, she said, “Oh, so you’ll listen to him.” then she swatted the back of my head as she got up to get a drink.
Damn, I love her.
I’ve got people in my circle of friends who are the types to go out, kill it, and bring it back to the cave. I also have the kind that waits around for the zookeeper to throw their prepared meal into the cage. I’ve decided that I want to be one of the ones who are killing it.
Wish me luck.