Today marks my real new year.
10 January 2013 is my last day as a gainfully employed, regular pay-check earning, “real job” holding person.
I’ve stepped away from a lot of big things in the last ninety or so days, a crazy process which began the day I returned from my long trip in the USA, methodically severing all significant anchors to my life here in Perth. In between the 2nd of October 2012 and now, I’ve sold, thrown or given away everything I have that doesn’t fit into a big human-sized bag, or a smaller backpack. I’m running away from the life I’ve built here for the last fourteen years. It has been three months of madness getting to this point.
In exactly a week, I land in the USA, and I have no idea what/where I’m going from there. The plan is to have no plan. It’s terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.
Under the “terrifying” heading, the top item on the list would be not having a job anymore. I’m voluntarily giving up what is presently my only means of feeding myself. I’ve had a funny tussle with it over the last few years. I really like actual work that I do (and the other delightful random things that pop up, as colleagues who are reading this might remember), enough to call it love. And I cannot say enough about the magnificent people who are my immediate team mates, who are friends, inspirers, great leaders, mentors, achievers of the impossible and wild artists; mad magicians in their own right.
But my perspective is completely at odds with the industry I work in, and I have struggled for years with the particular brand of institutionalisation that exists in it. It started as a little seed which took root, refused to die and grew into some kind of distorted behemoth. I suspect I’m exhibiting signs of what they call “burn out.”
So I’m walking away. At this stage, I’ve been in this bubble for so long, I don’t even know if I’m even employable anymore, should I need to be (and I will at some point).
That is a scary thought.
I haven’t gotten to this point through long deliberation. At some point on the long flight back to Perth, on the last day of September just past, I decided I was done with the way I was living. My life, at that moment, felt like a big empty waste. The last mental restraint broke. Became crazy. Made a throwaway decision. Came back and acted on it on the first day. Threw one hat over a wall, and then before I knew it, I’d thrown several more. Three months later, I’m on the brink of going. Somewhere. Haven’t figured the rest out yet. The amount of money I’ve got in the bank wouldn’t last a lot of people I know, two months. I’m thinking to live off it for twelve. Travelling. Alone. I don’t know the first thing about travelling. I’ve barely been anywhere in thirty odd years of living, when I could/should have.
It is stupid, and insane, and I have no idea what I’m doing.
But I want to. I feel at some level, that I need to. If only to give my sanity a second chance.
Early on, high on taking affirmative action, I’d say “I’m going to be a real photographer!” when breaking the news to a few close friends. But that’s not true. What I am really going to be, is a vagrant.
Photography has been the only thing that has kept me going through the last few years, although considering everything that the word encompasses, I’m reluctant to this thing that sustains me, “photography.” Taking/making pictures is more like it. I like making stuff. It’s what I’ve been compelled to do since I was old enough to hold a crayon, and it’s probably what I’ll always do. I don’t know the first thing about being a photographer. Don’t have what it takes, don’t know if I ever will. And with everything I’ve read about the industry, don’t know if I want to. There seems to be little point to it when the entire developed world’s economy seems to be turning to Facebook for inspiration – monetizing the hell out of everything and consequently, nothing. But to be fair, the point of anything escapes me these days. In many dark nights, the point of what I am about to do, doesn’t exist either. And that is scary too.
In all of this, the one thing I am definitely going to do whether I like it or not, is live. Because from this point on, I won’t be able to retreat into the safe zone of my daily grind and wish stuff away. I have to do something about living every day. And that is good, despite the inevitable bad that will happen along the way.
That smiling little girl (yes, holding the camera) at the top of this post? Maybe she’ll learn to be a Jedi one day.
2013. My new beginning, or maybe just the rest of my life. Either way, a really big change.
Happy New Year everyone. Cheers to the future!