I used to look at other photographers’ photos of Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, Nevada with a sort of reverence. I’d study them, admire them, then immediately despair of ever achieving anything so lovely. Even after I lived in the mountains not far from this spot, I avoided going over there to photograph because I was afraid I wouldn’t measure up in my own mind to all the other amazeball images I’d seen. I mean, I’m talking YEARS of avoidance! Such a waste.
I talked myself into believing that I didn’t even want to shoot at Sand Harbor because it was so “done”. Everybody and their mothers had photographed the area – there were simply no pixels left to capture. HA! The stories we tell ourselves to avoid feeling “less than”, right? Sheesh.
Finally one day, I decided I’d had enough. This business of “I don’t shoot Lake Tahoe” was getting old. Time to get my butt over there and face my fears, young weedhopper! So I did. And it was AWESOME! It took a few trips to figure out where the cool rocks were (I’m still learning that!), when the incredible blue/green colors are at their best, how to read the skies from afar to gauge the best clouds, where to park the dang car for some of the more obscure spots (still figuring that out too!). But those are details. The biggest thing I did was to decided once and for all to NOT live with avoidance and fear of failure.
That kind of fear/avoidance thing just isn’t good. It makes us smaller, sadder. And it doesn’t stay corralled in one area of our lives, either. It’s like an insidious, creeping virus. It may start with photography… but then it spreads. What starts as “I don’t shoot Lake Tahoe”, morphs into “I don’t have time”, then the next thing you know you’re living this pitiful, meaningless existence that has nothing to do with why God put you here on this green earth. And we need you live that purpose… on purpose!
I’ve learned that fear, avoidance and that “critical voice” in our heads actually served a purpose at one point in our lives, even though it seems kind of twisted. It’s a primal survival mechanism. When we’re young, that stuff keeps us safe by drawing lines we dare not cross. If we stay inside those lines, everything will be OK. Survival mechanisms will do anything to keep us alive, however poorly. But at some point, we have to reclaim what is ours. Our most heartfelt desires, our passions, our purpose; the things that make us full and whole. And if that means getting over to Lake Tahoe to find out if you really do suck at photographing it or not… then you might discover, much to your own delight, that not only do you NOT suck at it… it’s a helluva lot of fun!
Next thing you know, you’re doing all kinds of things you’d written off. Changing careers, expanding your vision, going places you’ve always dreamt of seeing, kicking butt, taking names… and creating a life worth living!
Never “settle for”. Never let fear tell you what to do. I’ve learned that if the little voice in my head tells me anything that makes me feel bad; it’s lie. Pure and simple. Feeling good is our natural state, it’s what creation intended. When I remember this simple premise… that ANY mind chatter making me feel bad about myself is a lie, period. I feel calmer. Happier. More creative. Artistically better. When I’m in that mindset, I’ll take the right kinds of risks; the ones that create better results than I could have imaged! Ones that, in looking back, weren’t really such a risk after all. They just felt that way for a second.
My sense of humor is a good gauge too… if that starts to slip, it’s a big fat red light of warning!
I much prefer the Lake Tahoe blue/green light of GO!!
How ’bout you?