“There is more potential buried in the cemeteries than alive anywhere else on the planet . . .”
It’s been rumoured that there’s more potential buried in the cemeteries than alive anywhere else on the planet. I didn’t quite understand what such a statement could mean the first time I heard it. Then I got old. And now, I understand. So, let me tell it to you the same way it was told to me. There is more potential buried in the cemeteries than alive anywhere else on the planet. This points to a very sad truth; the fact that too many people take their potential to the grave rather than applying it while life afforded them opportunity.
When I got out of school I was a charging young whipper-snapper eager to get a desk job with a big company and put my head down to the grindstone to begin working my way up. You see, I graduated along with a bumper crop of mass-produced, injection-moulded, made-in-China (metaphorically) graduates all hitting the job market with unbounded enthusiasm competing for the same jobs I wanted. In my mind there was no time to waste.
Let’s not even mention the silently stalking student loan that kept reminding me from the shadows that I was starting in the red. I had to forget that there were things I loved and always wanted to try. Photography was just one of them. Without realizing it, what I had actually set about doing was forging a ball-and-chain link to a lifestyle which did not represent a truly passionate pursuit.
I am by no means liberated and living the dream as I would define it. But, I am taking those crucial first steps in doing what I love. No need to sell the farm and invest in expensive gear. For all you know, in the process of just doing it you may realize that it isn’t as much fun as you pictured in your dreams. Just do it is not a guarantee of success. It’s an insurance against the future sense of nagging wonder and disappointment you’d feel for never having tried at all.
In essence, some of the things we regret the most are the things we don’t do, or worse, never tried to do. What’s the alternative? Keep those longings inside of us and someday die only to bank that potential along with the already sizable stash in the surrounding graves? Or do we resolve ourselves to inordinate amounts of planning to do the things we love some blessed day when we have more time? Neither of these are any better than the other.
In the field of physics, potential energy refers to the energy stored in something. Even though it’s energy, it’s no good to any human being until it is extracted, harnessed and applied. Every student of business and/or psychology is likely familiar with Abraham Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs. It’s probably all that is written in any textbook about Mr. Maslow. But, old Abe (if I may call him that) also said, “The purpose of life is to become actually what we are potentially.”, and this resonates more deeply within me than Abe’s triangle.
“you will fail at 100% of the things you never try.”
Just do it is a piece of advice so elemental that we can all benefit from it in some way. It urges us to forget the excuses, forget the naysayers, forget the what-ifs and just do what you love. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument. It’s very possible that you could be denying the world it’s next great master of the [insert instrument name here] by refusing to try. Or maybe we’re just afraid of failure. If that’s the case then here’s an interesting statistic to keep in mind: you will fail at 100% of the things you never try.
I have some very specific and very difficult goals for this photographic pursuit. I may accomplish them or I may fail. I’m short of one working crystal ball to tell me how this turns out. For now, all I know is that I get great satisfaction from creating and sharing these images, thoughts and, soon I hope, projects. One day, looking back from wherever I end up, I know I’d have the satisfaction and memories of having tried rather than the regret of having never. On that day I hope more than anything else I’d also have the satisfaction of being able to say “Just did it”.