I had a major epiphany a few months back and its something I shared with my last workshop class. I thought I'd write about it here as well.
I remember, years back now, when I began this journey into photography thinking to myself:
"I know nothing about this, I don't know how they light these images, I don't know how to build a good portfolio, I don't know where to find models or how to go about setting up meetings with agency art directors. I had no idea how I would begin to build a portfolio good enough to even get me in the door."
The beginning was full of I don't know's, I don't know's, I don't know's.
But somewhere in there, deep down and a quite was another voice, urging and pushing: "I will."
Somehow I will do it. Somehow I will make it. Its been these words that have pushed me through financial hardship, disappointment and an immensely energy consuming but amazing move to India. The successes along the way serve as beacons and reminders that I was indeed on the right path.
I had this notion of 'making it' in my head. I wanted to 'make it,' to 'get there,' and 'to arrive.' As I sat at my desk all those years back I noticed a Vanity Fair magazine to the right of my computer. I decided then and there that shooting the cover to a major magazine like Vanity Fair or GQ was my idea of 'making it' and that when that moment arrived, I would find my success, my peace and my happiness.
Flash forward some years.
I'm sitting at my computer in Bombay a few months ago and on my desk is a GQ magazine but this time its MY cover. I shot it.
and thats when it hits me. I remember all those years back, that promise I made to myself and here it is, the moment has arrived!
But interestingly, there was no feeling of 'making it' to be found, no angels of success trumpeting down on me heralding my arrival. No, there was only silence...and a small cursor blinking at the top of an open excel file entitled 'overdue Invoice for job EH2011-5,'
Thats when it hit me.
There is no tomorrow. There is no "I'll be successful when I reach here, or there or I'll be happy as soon as X happens.
There is only right now. Its a crazy thing but so many of us live in the future. I know this because I have like-minded, goal orientated friends like myself. Friends who say: "As soon as my book is published..." or "I need to be making at least 6 figures..." Those are all valid goals but they have nothing to do with success or happiness.
What I realized is that putting your visions of success and happiness into the future tense really is a negation of your success and happiness right here and now. We are unhappy with how things are so we fantasize about the future and how happy we'll be when we have our new car, house, salary, job, relationship.
But its all bullshit. You're lying to yourself. If you can't feel your success right here in the present moment, then you never will. It will never ever come.
I sat that looking at my cover and I thought to myself, that's a huge accomplishment, why don't I feel elated, or successful about it?? The truth is that I also suffer from the 'right now isn't good enough, tomorrow will be better' disease.
I made a conscious decision at that moment. I decided that from that moment forward I would visualize and feel my success in each and every moment. I would continue to set goals and work towards them, but would no longer look to them for validation or happiness. I would do that now, right here and now.
Its all habitual. The mind wants to wander to the future and wallow in the past. Anything but here and now. It takes practice and meditation.
I said to my class: "How many of you have goals about the future, visions of the future where you feel happy and full of joy and freedom." almost all hands went up. The I asked: "How many of you feel that about your lives right now?":
Noticeably fewer hands.
The truth was that they were successful, right now. They paid good money to hear me speak, they gave their time. It was a commitment to their craft, to their love of what they were doing. THAT is hugely successful. Most people just dream...they were here, sitting, listening, learning. I asked them to honor that.
There is no tomorrow. Visualize yourself as a success in your field, financially free, respected. Feel what it would be like to drive your dream car, live in your dream house. Visualize that and now bring it into the present. Live with the feeling that you are already that which you desire to become.
You remember that old story of Michelangelo and his carving of David from marble? Someone asks him how he could possibly have created something so beautiful and Michelangelo replies simply: "The statue was already in the rock, I just removed the excess pieces."
That's us, our success is already within...we just need to uncover it. Here. Now.