I am not a gambler. In fact, the betting window would be closed and the race long over before I even identified all of the variables or made my first graph. The horses would have died of old age before I analyzed all of the data. It’s not that I can’t make a decision quickly. I can. But data is my security blanket. If there is data to inform my decision, I am compelled to use it. I can’t just pick “Betty’s Aunt Mary in the Pea Patch” in race two because I once knew a Betty who had an Aunt Mary who lived on a farm with two acres of peas. I need something rational like a statistically significant difference in leg length or weight to height ratio. It’s not that I don’t have hunches. I do. They are even often right. But I do feel the need to back them up with a reassuring trend line and four supporting peer-reviewed articles. The truth is, the world is not always predictable or quantifiable. Yes friends, I said it. You can’t measure or calculate everything. And it turns out that some of the most rewarding things in life come after a massive leap of faith into the unknown.
One year ago today, I took a huge gamble. I decided to begin selling my photographs and paintings. So, with a frighteningly small amount of research on my part, I got a business license, found a wall to hang my artwork on and created a website. I did all of that in one weekend. I hyperventilated through much of it. (A big thanks to my family and close friends for talking me off the ledge repeatedly that weekend as I chanted, “What am I doing?!?!?”) Again, not because it was particularly scary, but because the sum total of my preparation was to read the state and city business license laws. To put that in perspective, my dissertation is 253 pages long and, after four years of classes, and two years of reading research and crunching numbers, my unbelievably patient doctoral chair literally called me up and said, “Enough researching already, start writing!” He was a wise man. I would have read “just one more article” and calculated “just one more ANOVA” forever if he had let me. I thought of him as I hung that first photograph and said to myself, “Put the nail in the wall already! What’s the worst that could happen?” Putting my artwork out for everyone to see was a little like jumping into a cold lake in early summer. It took my breath away and made my heart skip a beat. Creating something is so personal. And I didn’t have a chart of data proving it was right or good. I really liked my work. But I am biased. I had no idea if anyone else would like my work. I’ve sold some photographs and paintings over the year. That is an amazing feeling – knowing someone wants to look at my art, every day, on their wall! It was also an amazing experience to come to a place where it was OK if someone did not like my work. The joy is in the creating. It’s icing on the cake if someone shares in that joy.
One of the many unexpected experiences this year was writing this blog. As with the rest of this magnificent adventure, it was completely unplanned. The truth is that I really liked the website template I chose on WordPress and I just could not figure out how to get rid of the blog page. So I wrote a short post about how I came to love photography. I truly thought that would be the only post I would ever write. Blog. Check. Not surprisingly, my dad figured prominently in that first post and continues to make cameos. I found I really enjoyed writing my blog (and friends I hope you are sitting down, I am not talking about a technical article!). I wrote about the amazing moments (and some hilarious ones) I have had behind my lens. My blog has grown and grown as I remember the big moments – and small ones – of my life. Sometimes I just muse on life, love, and lessons I have learned. Whether I am writing about the love of my life, my grandpa, my dogs, my dad, my daughter or my day, I find myself laughing and crying and shaking my head. In the words of Zorba the Greek, I love “the whole catastrophe” that is this amazing life. And 53 posts later, I am having a great time writing about it. I am glad I gambled on this adventure. Thanks for gambling on me!
I selected this photograph for my post today because it is really the first photograph I “gambled” on. I entered it for the annual photo issue of Rowing Magazine in 2015 and it was publish in the January 2016 issue. It was the moment when I knew that I wanted to take a leap of faith and gamble on myself.
After the Finish Line
(1/1000 sec., f/6.3, 400 ISO, 600 mm)