Part 1: From Poser to Pursuer
A couple years ago a good friend of mine gave me an awesome set of DVDs: an amazing collection of in-depth photography concepts taught by National Geographic contributors. I "nerd-out" over this kind-of stuff, it excites me to learn ANYTHING from some of the best photographers in the world. As I looked over the "contents" on the back of the package, I was immediately drawn to the first set of videos, labeled under "Adventure," and the very first video titled "Redefine Adventure" taught by Cory Richards (www.coryrichards.com). I was super excited to hear an "adventure expert" share his take on what "adventure" might truly mean, and I immediately popped the disc in to check it out.
It inspired me, but as is usual with things like this, not in the way I expected.
The lesson I watched detailed amazing photos taken of adventurers, on some of the most extreme expeditions you could imagine. The photographer was aiming to show the challenge, the stretching nature of the adventure, not just the beauty of the scenery. (In the end, this was actually the point of his lesson.) I was just amazed at these incredible explorers and the work they were up to, the sometimes enormous odds they were up against. And mostly at this photographer, who was able to endure the same conditions while skillfully using his equipment and somehow pulling off well thought-through compositions in the middle of it all. It inspired me, and even more so it humbled me.
I am NOWHERE near that hard-core. Can't even pretend. There have definitely been times that I wanted to be though. Often when I think of "adventure," I think of photos I've seen of these climbers and these places and I sometimes say to myself "If I could just do THAT, THEN I will be living fully alive. I could hold my head up as a true, 'legit' adventure-taker."
The problem with this thinking, at least for me, is that it comes from some need to "prove" something to people. As I said, it may just be me, but maybe this resonates with you too. There's something deep in my core that yearns for the outdoors, for adventure, for freedom to see new things and celebrate them with others. That's good! But sometimes this desire of mine is skewed by my need for it to be known and respected by others as a part of my identity. When I let my insecurity (over whether people recognize me as an adventurous person or not) set the standards I'm trying to live up to, I'm missing the point of my dreams. I don't need to do anything to prove that desire of mine is legit, I just need to live it out and see where its waves take me.
So would I still love to go to some of the most remote places on earth? For sure! Hoping to be seen there so I can prove my heart beats for adventure though? That is just a never-ending, honestly stressful approach... and it's an attitude I get caught up in way too often.
My challenge to myself is to instead feed that yearning for adventure and draw life from the places it takes me. I'm aiming to pursue the things about this craft (photography) that bring me joy, to do it for my soul's own care and hopefully point others to the Maker of the awesome creation I find myself exploring. Not just doing it for other's respect, but also (if not moreso) to share in it with them and to inspire them to approach in a similar way whatever it is their heart beats for.
These are the things I have to remind myself. Maybe if this strikes a chord with you and your dreams/creativity/vision/passion, etc. , you will find encouragement knowing someone else wrestles with this. Maybe you can join me in letting go of the pressure and the self comparisons, finding joy and freedom in living out your gifts.
"Adventure" is a lot of times, actually not very pretty. Even by common definition, adventure is not what it is without some adversity, some uncomfortability. From the video I mentioned earlier, I was reminded there is also detail work, and times to work hard at a repeated grind. There are times that feel like you are going nowhere but have to stick to your plan. But the beautiful moments are worth it, and sometimes - even before you reach your heralded destination - you can turn around in the midst of your quest and work, smiling knowing you're in the thick of doing what you had hoped you would.
If we like to use the word "adventure" to describe our pursuits, we would do well to realize they are sometimes going to be just like that. There will sometimes be dry, grind-like, wilderness times in them. That's where I feel I've been at times over the last three years (in regards to my creative dreams). As I've learned to understand that's part of it, I've found reason to persevere those times and see the beauty in the journey. Re-defining adventure from my picture-perfect idea (of all fun without the struggle) to something more realistic doesn't negate the beauty, it prepares me for it all the more.
I'll talk more about this (and why there was a bit of hiatus in my posting) in the next blog, "Redefining Adventure Part 2."