In the scheme of things, I am just at the beginning of this photographic life. There is never a day that goes by where I am not inspired by my clients and their willingness to be open, honest and share the most sacred part of their lives with me -- their homes. I am continually motivated by their stories, and it challenges me on a personal level. It is so much easier not to ask, not to listen. But is the ease worth the cost?
WIth every family, every photographer, every storyteller I have listened to -- the details are different, but the lesson is almost always the same. Which really astounds me. When you keep hearing the same lesson weave in and out of your life, it's probably important to listen. And this is what it boils down to:
Hard times are the ones that define us, not the good times. Success is important, but not nearly as much as the way we choose to deal with failure. In order to grow as people, we need to be able to feel the pain to experience the relief.
And as someone who shut myself off from everything so I wouldn't have the opportunity to fail, this is a lesson I take to heart. Being 'comfortably' numb is so much worse than the chance of experiencing the pain. Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, and to some extent it can be easy to want to feel frozen in self-imposed misery than to take the leap. I am by nature someone who craves what is safe, and that isn't always a bad thing. But as with so many things, there is a balance. Maybe I haven't quite achieved that balance, maybe I am still learning to open up, and admittedly sometimes it is hardest with those who deserve it most in my life. Maybe there are days when I take a few steps back. But through this process of witnessing others' vulnerability and allowing myself the opportunity to open up to them, I have taken a jump. A small one, but it's a lot farther than where I used to be.
So to all of my clients, to the photographers who have mentored me and to those who share their stories with me, thank you. The weight of shame and what we carry around is too much for any one person. Talking is powerful. Even if our stories are not the same, they are the same. And they are healing.