“Hey! How long has that been there?” he asked.
Puzzled, I joined him at the window. “What? The trees?” I asked. “I planted them ages ago.”
“It looks like a whole freaking forest! It’s beautiful.”
I looked again. There were quite a few more trees than I remembered. And the way the morning sun glanced off the shiny leaves and softened the rough, stringy bark did have a little something. “I guess,” I shrugged.
“Seriously? It’s amazing. How have I not seen this before?”
“I don’t know. I don’t really go out there much.”
“Why not?! Who else do you know lucky enough to have a forest like that right there?”
“I didn’t really think it was all that great. And I don’t have the time, anyway.”
I have always loved to create, whether through writing, painting or sculpture. However, I have never taken art seriously and, aside from a few paintings, I’ve never really finished anything. It hasn’t been until the last few years that I’ve even let anyone see any of my work, due to the fear that whatever I did was amateurish crap. I loved the feeling of creating art but unconsciously categorised it as a guilty pleasure; it was something enjoyable to fill in a few spare hours on a weekend but not something you’d want to do in front of everyone. Wink, wink.
In 2013 I bought a Nikon DSLR camera, partly because a lot of my friends had one and partly because I quite liked the results I got with a point-and-shoot. I figured a fancy camera would help me take fancier pictures. I had also planned to go on a storm chasing tour in the USA in May and I knew enough about photography to know that I probably needed a better camera than the one I had.
This trip changed my life. Except, because this is me, I waited a whole year and went on the same trip again in 2014, just to make sure. Now, though, I am finally ready to do something about it.
On the 2013 trip I met Jim Reed and Jenna Blum. I had never before hung out with such talented and crazy people – people who had made a career out of their art. And for two weeks I was there, trying not to make a fool of myself, and taking amazing photos right alongside them. And when I got back, complete strangers were complimenting me on my photographs and telling me I should sell them. And it was unexpected and weird and uncomfortable and confronting.
And so, when I got back, I decided to consider to start believing that maybe I possibly did actually have the beginnings of some kind of talent.
The problem is that my day job has begun to consume my every waking moment during the week, leaving me washed out and exhausted on the weekends, without any time or energy to engage in other pursuits. For some reason, I’m finding that mildly vexing. But, coincidentally, at the very moment I realised that my day job holds no satisfaction, my eyes have been directed to another infinitely more satisfying option.