My life can be divided into many befores and afters. One of them is before photography and after photography.
Honestly, I never thought about the after before (see what I did there?). For some reason I thought that once you found your purpose, your calling, your “thing” that it would all fall into place and you’d live happily ever after. Well, spoiler alert…that’s bullshit. There’s no such thing as happily ever after. There is such a thing as a “happily ever right now” and “happily ever next week” but when, exactly, is after?
After comes when life got completely turned upside down. After is when a death broke apart everything you had or thought you had. After is when everything you ever thought was real, or important, or constant – becomes none of those things. It’s when the feeling you had in the middle of the glory days feels as far away as it ever has. It’s when you can’t remember the rush, the warmth, the excitement that it used to be since its been replaced with anxiety, worry and self doubt.
After is when you realize that even when you’ve busted through the finish line….you realize the race hasn’t even started.
“Pam! What the hell are you talking about?!” you may be shouting at your screen. I hear you! I hear you!
I’m talking about what happens after you’ve ran the race, met the goal (or met it as best as you can) and you’re standing there wondering “now what?”.
I reached this awkward middle dimension in my life and photography career last summer. I felt like I came to the end of my road, expecting to be lead to a new path, but all that was there were rocks and mud and no light.
I stayed there for far too long – wondering why I couldn’t find my way out. Angry that the universe had lead me here only to leave me here with nothing. I was so tired from the journey that I couldn’t push forward. This was my after.
This feeling wasn’t exclusive to my photography. At this same time, my oldest daughter had graduated from Aveda and started her own life of following her path. My youngest got her drivers license and was stretching her legs as her journey is beginning all too soon.
Again, I was standing at the end of a road that I thought would never end. Parenthood. How ridiculous to think that I assumed I would always be a parent to children. One half of my brain knowing that children grow up (duh) yet the other half of my brain completely unaware of that fact.
My parenting path isn’t gone, per say, but it looks different enough that somedays I’m not sure where it is or where it’s taking me. Most days, I feel lost.
So, here I am now. I’ve accepted that this is my new normal. The path of everything I have ever known before is of no use to me now.
I’ve stopped rolling around on the gravel, kicking my legs and crying out loud to the heavens – screaming with rage about being abandoned here with no direction.
The paths ahead are not as worn or visible as they once were but I’ve got on my hiking boots, machete in hand, staring down the unknown that’s ahead of me.
I’ve blazed my own trail once, I can do it again. Bring it on, after. I’m so much better than I was before.