In 1989, I left a great job I loved at a company that treated me well because I was worried that I’d look back in 30 years with regret about not having taken a chance and pursued the same dream many of us have – to do something meaningful with our lives.
I remember my dad - a man whose opinion I respected - drove 5 hours to Boston to talk thru my decision. We had a great dinner and at the Union Oyster House and a good conversation that didn’t leave either of us feeling confident I was making a good decision.
If a movie were made of my life, I’m sure the scene of that dinner would end with me saying, “I know in my heart, dad, that this is the path I’m meant to follow.” In fact, I may have even said something to that effect.
The truth is, though, that I left my decision to chance. I was so UNcertain about the decision I was making that I left it to the whims of the incredibly weak real estate market. I decided, if the condo I owned sold before Dec. 31 (just over two months), it was “a sign” that I was supposed to go back to school and let them teach me what it meant to be a photojournalist.
I can’t know what my life may have been like had I stayed with AT&T. But, as I write this … 30 years after that great dinner … I don’t regret for a moment the decision the Boston real estate market made for me.
Would I have been as happy if I’d stayed on the path I was on? Who’s to say?
What I do know is that many of my most fulfilling moments in the last 30 years are a direct or indirect result of the photographic life I’ve led.
More importantly, as I write this, I am enthused and excited about the road still ahead – the people I’ll meet, the experiences I’ll have and the things I’ll learn.
Am I without regrets? No. But I am a different – and probably better – person for the struggles I’ve had and the difficulties I’ve endured.
So many of the subjects I’ve photographed have been in difficult circumstances when our paths crossed. Cliché as it may sound, witnessing those people continue putting one foot in front of another has helped me do the same in those moments I found myself wondering if AT&T would have me back.
Photography has broadened my view of the world. My compassion is more genuine, my opinions are less judgmental, and my desire burns deeply to play some small role in making the world a better place.
It’s understandable that people question why they shouldn’t surrender in the face of the overwhelming and seemingly irreversible problems that exist around the world. But my camera has led me into the lives of too many people, who’ve done remarkable things in the face of what appeared to be insurmountable challenges, to not continue holding out hope that defeat is not inevitable, however likely it may at times seem.
The world is at a crossroads … perhaps it always is.
While I can’t control the direction we move as a world community, I can influence it in a small way by recording and sharing the things I learn and witness that give me cause for hope.
It’s lofty and idealistic, I know, to believe the things that give me hope will give others hope, and compel some of them to action.
But it’s thru my acts of creating photographs that I express my need to express that belief. And, in doing so, I am rewarded with feelings of purpose and meaning … which is what I really went in search of when I started on this journey all those years ago.