3.12 Take Notice

Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’ -Bob Dylan

June 30th will be my last day as an official Columbia Power and Water Systems employee. I knew this had been coming since November but when you’re faced with a change it can feel scary/overwhelming/uncertain. Surprisingly, I feel pretty good.

It kind of feels like my bonds have been cut. One more cage door has been opened. See I haven’t been able to go full throttle on the things I want to pursue because I feel like I’ve had to be this “thing”. This “thing” has to say the right thing and do the right thing all the time. I didn’t really get the chance to explore or express as I would want for fear of backlash on my employer. Well guess what… those days are over.

Take notice. If I see something I want to do, I’m going to do it. If you have fucked around and made a mess of a situation I’m involved in, from here on out no quarter will be given. Consider me a beast off a leash, an animal no longer to be caged. It is freeing to know what I can now do what I want, when I want, and the only person I have to answer to is me!

3.2 On Creativity

On a regular basis, I’m told “OMG, you’re so creative! I could never do that/see that/take that picture or video”. I’m here to tell you that thought is bullshit.

 

Your opinion of creativity and how it happens is probably wrong. Artistic ability can be innate but more often than not it is learned. The pull toward an art can enhance what you can do with it later, but that’s really the only modifier. Let me explain.

 

Creativity can be learned. Creativity is nothing more (to me) than looking at disparate parts and finding a way to assemble them in a new (or old) way. Your talent level + your subject + your materials= your result. Plain and simple.

 

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Take this photo for instance. This photo was taken around 2PM (which most “photographers” would say is a terrible time), with a Canon Rebel T4i with Canon EF-S 24mm lens, and Adobe Lightroom. Today those items probably cost $500. I have much, much more expensive equipment and yet I can make that photo with those items that most people start out with. How is that even possible?

It’s because I practice. I intentionally took out that old camera and that new lens just to see what would happen and what I could do. I love trying out new things, playing with new equipment and making difficult things work. The trick to that creativity is enjoying THE STRUGGLE. Hours and hours of trying and testing new methods. Rethinking how you do what you do and finding new way to do it.

 

That’s what art is. It’s struggle. It’s beautiful but it hurts. It sometimes hurts to make. It sometimes hurts to put yourself out there, but it’s that pain that propels you. Want to be better? Try… you’ll be surprised if you just keep going.

2.6 On the Struggle bus down Calamity Mountain

Every moment of chaos/uncertainty can be a moment of opportunity if you let it. Sometimes, things happen outside of your control when you’re riding the Struggle bus down Calamity Mountain and the bus goes haywire. I’ve got a recent story to illustrate my point.

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On the road to Atlanta this weekend, it seemed like everything was going great. Making good time, about 40 miles out of Atlanta when the Struggle bus of life decided to make a sharp turn to Shitsville. As we’re riding down the interstate, steam/smoke starts billowing out and under the hood, vents and every opening my poor old car has.

 

My beloved, admired, and legendary 2002 Honda Civic has literally been to hell and back. That car and I have been on more adventures than one can fathom. Years worth of journeys, memories, and mistakes have been made with, in, on, and around that amazing vehicle.

 

On leaving, I always knew this was a possibility. She’s old, ancient by most people’s car standards these days. I’d been having this sneaky suspicion that something was getting ready to go wrong. It seems like all the vestiges of my old life have been crumbling around me to make way for something new.

 

As we limped into the gas station off I-75 near Cartersville, a tiny bit of panic starts to creep in. What the holy fuck do I do now? We’re still at least 40 miles out from our hotel. It’s after 2pm on a Saturday so all the car rental places are closed. Now’s the time to put on our crisis caps and get our shit together.

 

Most people would become reactionary, get angry. Why did this happen now and to me? Oh my God what am I going to do now? What if it’s really dead? How am I going to get home?

 

Protip from Ross: The first, best thing to do in an emergency is to take a step back and reevaluate your situation from the objective viewpoint. Here was mine: A) no one is hurt. B) we made it to a gas station with a Cracker Barrel next door. C) we’re close enough to Atlanta to get help from friends if possible D) if not there’s a hotel across the road. E) Technically we have a whole day before we really need to be there anyway so this is no time to get stressed.

 

If you can’t control it, there’s no reason to be upset by it. Sometimes, shit happens. That shit may or may not be reflective of you, your choices, or even possibly nothing at all.

 

For me, thankfully I’ve got great people around me. My illustrious, beautiful, and clever travel companion held her calm and assisted in any and every way possible. An incredibly good friend (Thanks Cam!) came through in the clutch to save the day literally and metaphorically.

 

The struggle bus could have fallen off calamity mountain. The trick is, it didn’t. It didn’t fall off the mountain because a positive or at least a not reactionary mindset. It could have gone so much worse, or I could have LET it affect me so much worse. I didn’t.

 

Be positive or at least be objective. Bad shit happens. Did this potentially terrible calamity effect my weekend? Not at all actually. I let it go, because the journey is really more important than the destination. Did it all work out in the end? I’m typing this sentence in my own with a rental car in the driveway. Is there anything I could have done to change it? Obviously not, BUT I can change how I think about it and how to deal with.

 

Bad shit is going to happen. Don’t let it get you down. Keep focused, keep pointing forward, and let go. We’re not gonna make it out alive anyway so at least enjoy the ride on your own personal struggle bus.

 

To those who know my poor car: She’s dead. I’m sorry. There’s no way to bring her back and quite frankly I’m happy she went down on a final journey to one of my most favorite cities. RIP Civic. Your 240,000 miles should be an inspiration to all the substandard cars available today.