There's so much I want to write about. Musings of my soul. It's just a matter of getting what's inside out, and that's like fitting a camel through the eye of a needle.
It does seem that each week of this new year has given me a new lesson. I began with gratitude in place of complaint. Building on that, I purposed to be aware. This week I'm learning all about authenticity. I wasn't really given the choice, it was more a matter of soul survival that led me to this realization that I must approach the things I'm doing with utmost authenticity.
Here's what authenticity looks like: showing up and being real, allowing yourself vulnerability to be seen as who you are. And the thing is, this is really hard to do. A person spends so much of their life living up to expectations, trying to be perfect, to maintain an image that somewhere in the middle of it all they forget what is even real.
For me, this has become evident in my art. Ok, I'm not an artist. I don't paint or draw, not really. I don't have a studio with palettes and easels and brushes in water. But I do create. Since I was a kid I've been stringing together words in meaningful and powerful ways. When I was 11, I picked up a violin for the first time and it is one of my greatest joys. As I sit at my piano and play, I feel the music deep in my soul. For years I have been capturing pictures of things that make my heart skip a beat, the first I remember when I was teenager and I caught my dad in his signature overalls sitting and talking with his little grandson, my nephew, in a glow of sunshine.
These things have been a part of me all along but it has only been just recently that I learned how authenticity fits in amongst it all.
This past year I set out with purpose to turn the things I love into the things I do. Photography, I love. Thus, a business was born. And here is a glimpse of raw authenticity, I have no idea what I'm doing. But each day, one foot in front of the other, I build a business.
Here's the thing, when you start a photography business you learn how many other people are out there doing the exact.same.thing. And these people, they get out on mountaintops and shoot amazing images of goats standing on ledges in the glow of a perfect pink sunrise. And suddenly, my simple flower shot seems, well, simple.
So, I change. I frame my shots with these professional photographers in mind, hoping to measure up. I try to capture things I think others would like. I compare and compete. I scramble to make what I'm doing worthy. And just like that, I've lost my authenticity. I've lost the eye that saw beauty in that moment between my dad and my nephew.
And, really, this realization came to me in a moment, a lightbulb moment I suppose. I just decided, no more. I decided that my photography needed to come from the deepest part of me, it needed to be raw and authentic if nothing else. I would rather take beautiful pictures that no one sees than create some cookie-cutter images that mean nothing.
Every time I put pen to paper, or sit at an instrument and make music, or lift my camera to my eye I have a choice to expose my inner self, to be vulnerable and real. Whatever I create is a reflection of my heart. If not, what is the purpose?
This is my lesson. Be authentic.
This is, perhaps, the greatest risk that any of us would take: to be seen as we truly are.