“I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil,–to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school-committee, and every one of you will take care of that.” – Henry David Thoreau
As I make a decision which has ironically been a rather easy decision, I wish to say “thank you” to everyone who supported me over the last several years. This past year has been one of tumultuous feelings. I have experienced great joy and great sadness.
I had an amazing time spending the day with many brides, grooms and their respective family’s. The family’s and children I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with and photograph reminded me of what was important in my life and central to my happiness. I enjoyed seeing the smiling faces and the happiness which resulted from many family’s having an opportunity to have their photo taken.
Last August I made a business decision designed to enhance my marketing without the need to increase my rates. This decision backfired and cost me dearly both financially and emotionally. I underestimated the kindness of others. Just to be clear, the decision was to have a coupon accessible through LivingSocial. Initially it did it’s job as business flooded in. Unfortunately, as a result of my naiveté, the business stopped as quickly as it had begun. I underestimated the goodness, the kindness of individuals who saw nothing more than a really great opportunity for themselves. As a result my business lost over 10K in just several months. The emotional toll which this decision took on me was even worse. I found myself rationalizing and justifying the photo shoots just to complete them and even thought at one point of rescinding the coupon and returning the pittance I received from LivingSocial. My value system, as strong and as ethical as it is took the lead and I am in the process of fulfilling the last several photo-shoots. I am very thankful to the small handful of individuals who understood, without me saying anything about my financial dilemma and took care to go above and beyond to financially compensate me for my efforts. My deepest thanks and gratitude to you.
My heart hurts at the thought of no longer being able to follow a dream that has been mine for many many years. The ubiquitous nature of digital cameras and the number of people who have purchased a digital camera and offered both low cost and low quality photography has, in my opinion harmed the art of photography. The desire of many people to take advantage of a small business trying in this economy to eek out a living simply became too much for me. It was resign from my photography business or continue to attempt to manage the feelings of anger and sadness which became genuinely overwhelming. I bristle when I hear others use the word cheap as they refer to wedding photography. Please learn and understand the difference between “cheap” and “inexpensive”. You get what you pay for. More times than I care to think I spent time with couples who had refused my prices choosing instead to go with the “cheaper” option only to be frustrated with the poor quality of the completed photography.
Oh yeah, just one more thing…please don’t purchase a coupon through LivingSocial, Groupon, etc. I know the deep discounts are enticing but what you’ll end up with are small businesses like mine falling by the side of the road because we can no longer compete with the big retailers who can offer volume discounts. Also remind yourself of the difference between words like “cheap” and “inexpensive”. My work is not inexpensive nor is it “cheap”.
I made a decision which has been difficult for me. Decisions such as these have always been, well, difficult. I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off from running. I have an injury to my foot that is as of yet undiagnosed but causes pain with each step.
Walking and Thinking
Early afternoon and the blue sky, covered now and then with pillow like clouds being pushed by a breeze which reminded us that winter was recently left behind. As I walked the stone road along the edge of the lake with my dog, the temperatures in the high thirties with a windchill pushing it down into the low thirties causes me to grit my teeth and be thankful I carried gloves with me.
I walked the stone road until I reached the bend in the lake. I sat on the edge of a smooth granite slab, my legs dangling over the edge, feet almost touching the water. Jack, my dog walked to the edge and sat beside me. The slab warmed by the sun. I watched as fish rose from time to time and the breeze blowing gently across the water’s surface causing small ripples.
This time of year, on this side of the lake few others venture allowing me the solitude which I sought. I became restless after a few minutes, thoughts racing around in my head. I unzipped my backpack and retrieved my journal and fountain pen. I began to write about the activities of the week which had just ended. The double bombing Monday morning at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the explosion at the factory outside Waco, Texas and the activities on Friday which saw one of the alleged bombers killed and the other taken into custody.
As a social worker and also as one who cherishes his sanity and the solitude which he creates around him; I found myself not paying much attention directly to those actions, but they remained in my thoughts. Why would someone do such a thing? This is a particular thought which I allow to come and go, never allowing it to spend much time in the forefront of my thoughts because I know anxiety and poor sleep will not be far behind.
It is times such as these that I turn to my long deceased friends Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, John Borroughs and Ralph Waldo Emerson to help me make sense of such things. They are of little direct help other than to remind me that there are some things in life for which logical sense will never be made. Instead I turn my tangled web of thoughts to those things which I can understand; nature. The solitude and solace provided by nature begins the process of untangling those thoughts. Here things are much simpler, as they should be. Henry thought a walk spoiled when he couldn’t out-pace the town and its news and when his mid was not successful shedding that news and those thoughts.
I began to think of my walk as spoiled so I retreat further into the solace and solitude brought to me by my walk in nature. I focused my breath and with shaky hand wrote and wrote; thoughts streaming forth as if from a faucet left on. Here amidst the pine trees and the rippling water I can breathe again. My breath comes easier, more rhythmic. Here my tangle of thoughts continues to unwind.
After a short time my thinking becomes increasingly clear. I can hear the chirping of nearby birds and the ripple of the water as the breeze, now more noticeable continues to disturb the once placid surface of the pond.
The walk has done its job. My thoughts, slowed to a snail’s pace are now clear. I acknowledge there is no sense to be made of this past weeks events and it is better to leave them where they began. I cap my fountain pen, close my journal and cinch the cord tight around the smooth leather binding. I sit for a few more minutes and decide it is time to go. Jack and I make the return walk to our car; my heart and head lighter from this walk.
It is humbling to know these thoughts will return again. It is comforting to know I have the woods in which to walk to help make sense of what I can to lighten my load.
The night was restful.
The wind stopped blowing sometime during the night, the rhythmic sound which helped lull me to sleep now absent.
The vague appearance of sunlight as it filtered through the still closed blinds.
I turned on the radio and listened to the weatherman announce the temperature. 34-degrees.
I stood hesitantly and with cautious fingers I parted the still closed blinds. My eyes fixated on the white tint covering the lawn…it had snowed last night, just enough to ensure we recall Mother Nature’s influence in our lives.
Did I mention it is April 20th?
I didn’t have an opportunity to post this photo of this beautiful sunrise yesterday so I’m sharing with you today.
I hope everyone is making a beautiful Sunday!