I'm intrigued by people I've met who have a "calling." And I don't necessarily mean that in a religious sense, but then again maybe I do.
Late last summer when I learned that my oldest brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a flood of childhood memories filled my mind, - and my heart. The single strongest realization I had was that my brother always followed his passion. He let his heart be his guide, his "divining rod" as it were. My brother was always interested in science. He had a natural inclination for it. And whenever any roadblock got in the way it seemed that divine intervention would knock down any barrier and wave him forward to follow that passion. He ultimately became one of the top experts in his field. He always thought it was amazing that he got paid to do what he genuinely loved to do. Money was not his motivator. Pure passion was.
This past winter I paid a visit to my sister-in-law after my brother sadly passed away. I had an interesting encounter. A few weeks before I left for my trip to Rochester, I remembered glancing quickly at an email that referenced a former manager. It stated that he was now in Rochester. It barely registered, but I filed it away. When I was visiting my sister-in-law she told me she was in need of an accountant to help her with the myriad of tax issues. My memory was jolted and I was able to contact this manager. Within a few minutes he contacted me back. Not only was he in the vicinity - he was only a 2 miles away. He would even jog on the street where my brother lived, he was that close. He came to meet us and brought his wife who I had never met before.
It turns out his wife used to work at the same company we did. But 16 years ago she had a true calling, a religious calling to become a minister. Where this idea came from she hadn't a clue. She wasn't even religious, didn't attend church. It was an enigma to her. She thought it was the strangest thing, yet the desire was so strong she felt compelled to pursue it. Along the path she encountered one road block after another which made her reconsider this decision every step of the way. Every time a new roadblock appeared, something "divine" would knock it down.
Sometimes the roadblocks seemed impassable, but amazing things would happen that opened up the road ahead and ultimately she did become a minister. She left behind her former job as a sales rep. She hasn't looked back since. Her life is full to the brim. Things continued to happen including the beautiful house they live in and a welcoming community. She was just who my sister-in-law and I needed to meet and hear at that exact moment. She listened to her heart and became who she was meant to be.
Last year I was on the verge of putting my camera away. I found a few opportunities to freelance write and began to pursue them with intensity. I was developing a daily writing routine and found it to be extremely rewarding. I didn't care about the money, yet I was finally being paid to write. Yippee! The writing was becoming consuming and my photography was becoming second fiddle. I thought I might drop the photography altogether. I loved the writing so much.
Then a couple of interesting things happened. Several photos I posted on a Flickr site were picked up. One was selected by a media agency in London and subsequently published numerous times on the web and in print magazines. A nice windfall of British pounds fell in my lap which was totally unexpected. Then another photo was picked up by Travel and Leisure Magazine for their "America's Most Beautiful College Campus" edition.
Every time I considered putting my camera away another opportunity presented itself. The most recent one was last Sunday. I went to a college lacrosse game and snapped away for pure fun. I put an online album together and sent it to my friend who has a daughter on the team. The assistant coach loves them so much she's asked to use them for a pump-up video for the team. Plus the photo was picked up by a newspaper. And the fun thing is this coach just happens to be the daughter of an NFL-Superbowl-winning coach. I wonder how I can use that to my advantage :)
What does this all mean? Well, maybe nothing startling to you. But I'm thinking this is my calling. I was going to put down my camera a year ago, but now I have a new purpose. Every time I picked up my camera, something kept happening to encourage me to continue. Now I love being a photographer in a way I never expected. I still love being a writer. I'll have to combine the two somehow.
Whenever I used my camera out of pure love and enjoyment, something incredible happened. I paused to listen to my heart. Just like my brother.
What is your heart telling you?
Project Vision Posts:
Step 10: Achieving your Dreams
Step 9: Take Risks
Step 8: Seek a Mentor
Step 7: Take a Class
Step 6: Listen to your Heart
Step 5: Gratitude Attitude
Step 4: Creative Workflow
Step 3: Prioritizing Lists
Step 2: Discovering your Passion and Setting Goals
Step 1: Getting Organized and Decluttered