Like I’ve written before, my creative mind is a marriage of music and photographs. The song, “Unsteady,” by X Ambassadors is one that got those gears going enough that I actually decided I should start writing again. It’s been a while!
Approaching real life has strangely gotten me thinking a lot about hands. It sounds strange, but hands tell stories. Every crease has a memory of a held hand, a clenched fist, a rock climbed, a piece of art/writing created. The things I love and want to build into my future– photography, ad art directing, writing, climbing, travel– seem to require a pair of decently functional hands. And what would I do if I lost that? What’s my back-up dream?
We all have dreams, and if we’re being honest, they all have the capacity to be lost. Bones break, business plans fail, and priorities change. Some of of us will tend toward safety. We will hold on to the progress we’ve made, the degrees we obtain, and the experiences we’ve built and made familiar. We will choose a lit path, the one with opportunities and a bright future. And for a lot of us, that will be our dream, fulfilled.
A lot of us will default to that plan, or try to, once we come to the conclusion that it is easier to choose the back-up dream to begin with than it is to choose the dream and risk failure. We reject the dream before it can reject us. Some of us are pretty good at convincing ourselves the back-up was the front-runner dream the whole time anyway.
Some of us will choose the dream, the mysterious path of possibility, and fail, and have to choose to persist or start all over again. And some of us will choose the dream, and find out it’s everything we ever wanted and more.
I’ve gone cliff-jumping a handful of times in my life. I want to jump, I want to be the kind of person who jumps, and I want to be able to tell people I jumped. I have always jumped. And almost every time, I’ve gotten hurt. But it’s not the cliff, the water below, or the friends cheering me on that are the cause. It’s the fact that I rush to the edge with all the adrenaline-infused enthusiasm, hesitate and falter the moment I need to leap, and in that moment of paralyzing fear, I fall. Strange thing is I still haven’t stopped.
I haven’t been very encouraging thus far, but I’m getting there, I promise!
A lot of us are on that edge right now. We are approaching the moment where we choose to leap into the great unknown or to hold our ground and continue building what we know.
We are unsteady. In that moment, will you jump or hold on?
The dreamer in me says, “Duh, jump.” If I’m ever going to be a travel photographer, I better risk being pretty broke and homeless to dive into that dream and make it a successful reality half a decade down the road. It might pan out, it might not.
The doer in me says, “Duh, hold on.” I’m not going to pay off student loans bumming around the world, and I know I will be SO happy building foundations as part of the creative advertising world. It’s everything I’ve worked so hard for the past four years.
I’m not the authority to say which is right and which isn’t. I have a shot of living THE real life dream if I risk everything, and I have a shot of living another dream if I risk little. I have a shot of losing everything either way.
My point is that the courage isn’t in the leap. It’s in the moment you choose.
It takes courage to choose to leap; we all know that. However, it takes just as much as it takes courage to choose to hold on. It takes courage to be so self-aware to accept that we won’t all be thriving artists, rock stars, astronauts, and presidents. It takes courage to commit to responsibility, to realities that we might want farther down the road, like financial support for your future children.
I have utmost respect for people who are confident as to where they are called. I have such admiration (and envy for) my friend who is traveling the world with the one she loves and taking photographs. I have admiration for the peer who accepted a cubicle job and has already started saving college funds for the children he doesn’t have with the wife he doesn’t yet know.
I have been unsteady. But I hope I jump. But if I jump, I know I need to do it with my entire being. My hope is not that you will choose to jump, or choose to hold on, but that you will choose, period. That is where courage lies. If we choose with conviction and confidence, before we get to that point where the choice is made for us, we’ll thrive.