Saturday, August 20, 2011

There is no tomorrow...

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.


Anonymous said...

Amazing post, thank you. I needed to read this. I am a photography student at the moment and am bombarded with people telling me "when you are a photographer" and "you can be successful if you..." I never thought to just think how happy I am studying something I love and doing it everyday.

Thanks man, seriously thank you.

John said...

Awesome and inspiring! I miss you on Flickr btw. Hope you're having an awesome time... but somehow, I know that you are. :)

Unknown said...

great post, thanks

carmen said...

thank you for this post martin, i had the same "when i make it on the cover of VF" speech to myself but have realized that's it's all relative. i can relate to your blog post completely. than you for sharing your thoughts and writing it :) hope you continue to find happiness and fulfillment in every moment of your day.

piyush gupta said...

thanks for sharing....:))

Cruz said...

oh yeah,...I rem it well. I din't know the answer then & now as well. I just wish I could make it as simple as your words - for me. Am trying.

James Dyas Davidson said...

I concluded the same many years ago. All you have is now and your memories.

~Kristina~ said...

So similar to my own view on life..

beautifully said.

Anonymous said...

You are a wise man. I thoroughly enjoy the mixture of insight into photography and life in general. It's hard at times not to get carried away by tomorrowism (and materialism), and your posts sure help. Thanks for that.

Ahmed Sharif said...

extraordinary post, Martin!!
really inspiring... all the best wishes for you so that your present never ceases to elate you!

Richard said...

A great post.
I came to this same conclusions some time ago. It was my two young daughters that did it for me. Whatever stage they were at in life my wife and I were always saying, "It will be different when.....".
We were lucky enough to realise that we were wishing away important days that we could never rec-capture in looking ahead to the next milestone.

Enjoy the journey, we all reach the same destination in time.

Richard Sladek said...

Great post, so inspiring!
I'm gonna to bookmark it and recall whenever I feel frustrated about my career again :)

Anonymous said...

Wise words Martin and bang on the mark. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with it all. If you told me three years ago "This is where you'll be in three years" I'd say "wow, how fucking awesome." but ask me today and I'd probably say "Yeah, it's good, but I'd just like to be that much further up the road." I think the moment that we say "yeah, I'm happy where I am," we've lost.

At the same time we need to remember how proud our three years ago self would be of where we are right now.

Pouhou said...

inspiring words

MsTNTBS said...

This is good! I now embrace, "There is no tomorrow..."

raminka said...

Words of wisdom....!!!....We are who we are, not who we will.
Thanks Martin, now I have my mind ready for success.

Raju said...

You are correct Martin, But there is saying Human wants are unlimited. To satisfy that urge human will surely try to do something which will drive towards a right path. I am very much inspired looking at your status

in the first place you had a goal ....

" one night i had a dream about moving to India. ..."

Finally you reached india and became a popular photographer.

next goal ..

"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"

Successfully accomplished..!!! you have satisfied that urge
"there was no feeling of 'making it' '

The reason you are not feeling it is you have some thing else goal set in your mind now ...

Human wants are unlimited :)) ..( But that is what driving you to successful path )

But one thing I learn from you is your dedication to reach your goal !!! I can imagine how tough it would be your initial days of stay in india. your struggle and sincere hard work never failed and fails.

I wish you all the best for your next goal what you have set !!!

Rene said...

Thanks, Martin...just stumbled upon your blog, had never read it before, and this post really hit the nail on the head. I needed to hear this. and many of the people i love need to as well, so I've been passing it along. By the way, your words are reminescent of the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass. Also, the best seller Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.

Thanks again.

Leo H. said...

I'm really amazed by your blog. Amazing stuff here and after I read the producers post I was the same way you described in the beginning of this one. Full of "don't knows" in my mind. I'm always wondering how I'll know about lighting, but you made me realize that we have to step on the ground, follow and live our dreams NOW and those things will happen naturally. But I do hope one day see my first magazine cover in my hands. Thanks for sharing with us what you know.

Paul Freimanis said...

Well, I came to your site to see some interesting photographs and see what photographers in Advertising can do, but I was given an amazing insight into what I can do with an off camera flash if I put my mind to it (I'm a Photojournalist, and spend much time in India!), and now reading your text posts I've also been given a new angle of thought, and feel much better for it! I think, for myself, photography is just a vehicle, it's an excuse for me to travel and explore, and learn about life and myself. It's really just a tool we use to create and learn about life, and the camera is just a passport into other peoples lives.