You’re staring down the barrel of a gun.
The hammer is cocked and a finger’s on the trigger.
The potential grim-reaper has one demand.
One simple choice stands between you and the bullet ready to careen out of that gun and end your life as you know it.
The gun man says this…
“Pick one absolute, one passion, one activity, one pursuit, one purpose. That’s it. No others. Only one thing and do it everyday, with all your remaining life, all your creative ability. Do that one thing to the fullest everyday. And nothing else.
Or I end it right here.
But there’s a catch, you have to do this one thing to the best of your ability with all the talent and logic your mind can muster- and only your mind- to the irreverence of everyone else in your life. You can think of no one else’s opinion of your work, you can embrace no one else’s vision of your life, you can stand by no one else’s decisions.
Only your own.
From this day forward, you must embody your absolute and you must shed everything else. And you can live for no one else’s vision or opinion of what your life should or could be.
Or I shoot.”
Could you decide?
Could you- with the reality of your decision only inches from your face, look at all that you do and all that you think is possible with all the ideas and creative endeavors you embrace- and pick one. Only one. And do that one thing, that one absolute to its highest potential? Without waiver, without deviance from your path, without outside influence on your work?
What would you choose? What would you do? What would you discard?
I’ve had several conversations with my local barista revolving around modernity and the effect this virtual world is having upon the way people interact and communicate. And today, as we were talking about her potential Mac purchase and my tutoring her to bring her up to speed on the ways of the Mac, I repeated a statement I often make when people are impressed by all the computer knowledge I’ve gained over the years.
“You could take it all away, all of it, give me a darkroom, some film and my chemicals and I ‘d and I be in bliss”
And I mean it. While I love writing for this blog and the new world it has opened up for me, I would gladly place it all on a shelf, take out my film camera and some black and white film, pull out my negatives, fill up my trays with stop bath and fixer (darkroom chemicals) and go to my happy place.
You wouldn’t even need to put a gun to my head, you’d just have to slide some food under the darkroom door every few hours and be sure I enter the light of day every so often.
I continually come back to this point throughout the entire duration of my career as a photographer. I went digital because my clients demanded it. I produce multimedia because people are paying me to do it. I shoot weddings, portraits and write online articles because it puts food on my table and keeps a roof over my head.
But I would gladly give it all back if I could return to my roots- and still make a living.
I would gladly return to the days of film. I’m heavily debating it at this moment. I’m trying to figure out if I can stand in front of that gun and just do one thing. And can I still support myself in the process- can I swim against the current, do it my way and not starve to death?
I miss the days of film and the darkroom. The days of waiting with child-like excitement, for days on end, for my negatives to be developed just so I could see if the actual vision in my head rivals what I captured on film.
And in some instances, I opted not to develop the film because I liked the vision of the image in my brain so much that any actual representation of the image in real life would be disappointing.
That’s fucking crazy. But I’ve done it.
There’s a fabulous scene in Vicky, Christina, Barcelona, where Javier Bardem is explaining about the beauty of his father’s poetry but that he never published any of his work, nor translated it into English, in fact, he speaks no English because of his art.
“He’s a poet, and he doesn’t feel that another language should pollute his words.”
When asked about his poetry and why he doesn’t publish, Javier answers with this, “He hates the world. And that’s his way at getting back at them, to create beautiful works and deny them to the public.
[He’s so angry] because after thousands of years, they still have not learned to love.”
That, to me, is the sign of true passion, to an extreme. That is a man, who, were a gun pointed at his head, would choose one thing- instantly. And further more, if a gun were pointed at his head asking him to share his work or water-down the vast significance his work held based on someone else’s judgment, he would tell the reaper to pull the trigger. Or do it himself.
He would choose death before he compromised his art. His passion. His purpose. That’s intense. That’s real. That’s the type of absolute drive we should all hope for when we embrace our passion.
Would you go so far to defend your purpose? Would you hold your work close to your soul and let no unworthy person see the fruits of your passion?
Would you choose death over the compromise of your one purpose in life? Do we even speak of such extreme passion in today’s world?
Have we lost the true devotion to a craft, to a purpose, to a drive that we would choose a slow meaningless life devoid of passion, intensity or risk over the brief opportunity to embrace our purpose, to pursue our calling?
Would we choose the bullet, rather than take the risk and fail at striving to embody our purpose– our absolute?
Would we have the strength and the courage to deny the world our art if that world was unable, unworthy or unwilling to embrace the brilliance of its purpose?
What would your choice be if the gun was in your face? Is it not already?