Throughout my life I can count on one hand times when I have been unable to sleep soundly through the night. I almost immediately start to snore as soon as my head hits the pillow. Those close to me often marvel at my ability to sleep anywhere, on a plane, bus, train, noisy street, literally anywhere and at almost any time. My two adult children wait in horror at movies, elbows at the ready to strike simply because I miss the first ten minutes of any movie simply because I fall asleep and begin to snore.
Those nights where I lay sleepless are vivid in my memory. Barring my nights when infant children needed to be tended to, they include the death of our first son, born stillborn. A small hole in his amniotic sack allowed fluid to drain preventing his lungs from fully developing. The first week when my wife and I decided to separate and I moved into a new house away from what I knew as ‘my family’ home. The guilt and doubt haunted me preventing me from my normal escape into peaceful slumber. When I was 21 and my father was in the hospital for the 29th day and I feared that he would die and I would not be at his side. My fears proved true as I received a call early in the morning to tell me he had passed away in the night. And finally a period of time when my female boss was harassing me so vigorously that I had to file a harassment claim against her which the company eventually found to be valid.
Yet tonight is completely different. I lay awake not due to any series of or single event which causes me anxiety or pain. Instead I lay awake simply because I am excited, but not for any other reason than being excited about my life. Like most adults I have for many years pursued careers which provided fiscal security for myself and my family. We all encourage our children to build their lives around what they truly want to do, yet we give them mixed signals about our parental ‘approval’ about appropriate career choices. I laughed one day when I heard an Asian comedian say “All Asian parents encourage their children to pursue the arts UNTIL they actually want to pursue the arts for a living!” My parents pushed me toward more ‘prestigious and practical’ pursuits; engineering, math, science and business. Some career where I could make a ‘good living’ for myself and my eventual family. I now understand their motivation for me toward those goals, yet I never found true personal satisfaction in those choices no matter how large my direct deposits.
Today as a commercial photographer life is completely different. I am not confined to a Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM job, weekly management meetings, PowerPoint presentations and annual reviews. So many times I recall longing for the weekend to arrive and reveled in three day weekends. My boss often denied vacation time and her performance reviews were based upon her last and most recent negative memory. In stark contrast my life now consists of working whenever a client needs the type of imagery I can produce along with a work ethic that doesn’t fit the normal ‘artist’ stereotype. I work with people who are truly collaborative, who enjoy the arts even when that means their bank accounts don’t maintain four figures on a monthly basis not including the decimal points. My ‘annual review’ has turned into a daily review since a photographer is only as good as his or her last shoot. There are certainly downsides to this life, but those pitfalls are far less than what I’ve experienced in the corporate world. Creativity is TRULY encouraged and rewarded, what more can anyone ask?
So tonight as I lay sleepless it is because I have two remarkable adult children, I’m healthy, I have a comfortable roof over my head, a woman who loves and supports me, a community of likeminded individuals and a career I simply adore. Over the past ten years there have been countless people who have both supported and helped me in this endeavor, something I can only repay by returning those favors in kind to others.
For those few who have wondered why I have neglected these Musing pages for so long, it’s simply because I didn’t feel I had anything important to say. Tonight is different and now I’m sure I’ll be able to sleep soundly while keeping my partner awake with my snoring. May each of us be so blessed as to have a life which we enjoy. Good night.