It seems these days that many people are interested in condemning our differences; our differences in opinion, in political affiliation, in sexual preference—even in what god to worship (or not). They'll go to great lengths to let you know that "if you're not with us, you're against us" (or you're "for the terrorists," or something like that). In addition, many folks feel the need to jump on the misfortunes of successful people; to make sure that in the end, that guy or gal is really the same as they are—that he "puts his pants on one leg at a time," just like the rest of us. The implication is of course that we all are the same; that nobody is better than anyone else.
Remember when you were a kid and your mother told you you were special; unique like a snowflake? Remember that? Then, as you grew older, you decided that was just something that she had to say because, well… she's your Mom. That's one of the things they taught her in "Mom School". Your friends, your boss—even sometimes your spouse—told you otherwise. You need to go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, get a mortgage… you know, what everyone else does.
You should listen to your mother.
Not just because she loves you, but because she was right. You are not like me. I am not like you. And that's something to celebrate, not condemn. Yes, you do have to play by the rules many times, but NOT all of the time and not all of the rules. You need to find your own way, and that's really hard.
David duChemin, in his new book Visionmongers: Making a Life and a Living in Photography, says that making that life and living is not an easy thing to do—and I certainly believe him. However, he says, your passion and drive will many times see you through the hard stuff. I think this advice holds true for everyone who is just struggling to express their vision as well; to get past the naysayers who tell you to be like everyone else.
Another favorite author, Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art, calls this (capital R)esistance. He writes, "Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance." For most of us, the life we live is the face we put on for everyone else. It holds our responsibilities to others: our job, our family life, and more. But it's the "unlived life" that gnaws at us, that makes us think we're missing something; something important to us.
Don't let "them" convince you that your vision isn't important or relevant. That's your call. Find a way to express it. Learn the difference between what you really need to adhere to, and what you don't. This is one of the most valuable lessons you learn in life and many of us don't really get it until we're older—and if we're lucky. Some folks never get it at all. (You know… "them". :-) )
And, in this corner…
Speaking of people who get it, I'd like to introduce you to Iain Sarjeant. Iain is a gifted photographer from the north of Scotland and a friend of mine through Flickr and Twitter. No, we've not actually met (yet), but I'm certain we are kindred spirits. I see many of the same things in his landscapes and abstracts that I want to see in mine. In fact, he recently made an abstract composition of snow, ice, and reflected tree limbs in black and white that I simply love. He was kind enough to let me show it to you here.
[caption id="attachment_96" align="alignnone" width="501" caption="Frozen pool abstract © Iain Sarjeant 2009. Used with permission."][/caption]
I like it so much that I've asked Iain to sell me a print of it. To my delight, he has agreed and soon I will have a signed, first edition Iain Sarjeant print hanging in my house. (Probably right over there, where that bare spot is next to the Ansel Adams poster. Yeah, that's it.)
If you want to see more of Iain's stunning work, head on over to his web site, www.iainsarjeant.com, or his Flickr feed and see if you find something there you like. I'll bet you will, but if not, that's okay.
Because you're not like me.