The last two weeks of May, Tina and I were traipsing around Europe like to spoiled brats. We lived the life. Saw the sights. Ate the food. Met the people.
It was an amazing adventure.
We landed back in Chicago on May 30th.
And on May 31st, the universe thought it would be great to infect us with a stomach bug of some kind. I had diarrhea and Tina just couldn’t seem to find a time when her stomach didn’t hurt.
On June 1, we had booked the day with meetings. It was a Friday. We pushed through the day, but then found ourselves in bed for the weekend. Well, I was in the bathroom and in bed.
Then June 4 to 15, we were booked with appointments and jobs, most of which were 10 to 12 hour days on site. With the amount of gear we use, there’s a lot of work necessary to clean lenses and cameras, recharge batteries, and log footage. Most days we accumulated 150 to 200 GBs of data on 5 to 7 different memory cards. So there’s an hour of my time, watching data transfer to hard drives.
Or there’s requests for highlight images. So I have to fish through 4,000 to 5,000 images to land on a few “good” ones to send.
Most of the projects these last two weeks were events. LARGE events. Multi-day events. We’ve been photographing them for years, and it’s hard to let go of them once we see the checks roll in. It’s a form of greed.
They’re hard work. Grueling. I carry between 10 and 25 lbs on me at all times. And in three days, I can easily rack up 45,000 to 60,000 steps.
But we keep them because we know the pay off is good enough to say yes to them when they book us for next year the last day of the show.
Tina and I have stopped shooting weddings. And smaller events, we’ve left as well. We still hold on to these two June events and one other client who has us two to three times a year.
As I grind through my days, I think. I think a lot. I think way more than I can write. And I regret how much time is spent not writing, when it’s often something I really want as part of my routine.
One of my thoughts over the past two busy weeks was that life was moving so fast, we couldn’t taste it.
I wonder how many people go through life like that. Not tasting it. A meal is just a moment between two other slots in their calendars. A workout is a routine experience. Seeing people is part of the day, not to be relished, or experienced.
On a busy day, food was thoughtless. It was stress induced. “If I don’t eat this salty plate of fake orange eggs, I won’t have the strength to make it to lunch, which will be a plate of salty chicken with a side of sautéed peppers.”
It seems weird to criticize good food. I’m sure there are people in the world who would love to have eggs, chicken and sautéed veggies.
But to use those items as more fuel and not an enjoyment. Or an experience, that seems weird to me. That seems so, well, American.
Back when I worked for the man, in 2000 to 2002, I hated it. I worked 9 to 5. Well, I personally worked 8 to 7 most days with lunch at my desk. But my time at home was so limited. It was to find something to eat at night. Get tired. Sleep. And Groundhog Day my day again and again and again and again.
I dreaded the idea that I worked to pay rent in a place I visited in the evenings for 2 or 3 waking hours.
There were may things that drove me to self-employment, but that was one of them. A huge one of them. I felt like it was a waste to spend 1/2 or more of my paycheck on something I enjoyed only 10-12% of my day (I didn’t count sleep or mornings as time spent at home).
The other thing was, I wanted to taste life. I don’t want to use moments in my day as stepping stones to get to the end. I don’t want my days to look exactly like the one before it, with corporate meetings and life-moving-so-fast tactics that distract me from the enjoyment of life.
I’m not working for retirement. I’m working to feel retired now. Or at least on occasion. Although the last few years have seen a big uptick in our schedules, and we are a little busier than before. But we’re also enjoying these European trips more, too. So there’s a trade.
If you’re not tasting life, slow down. If you’re sick of spending 10% of your day in the place you spend the most of your paycheck, you might be missing out on other things.
I’m a photographer because I LOVE what I do. I would photograph dirt. It’s just a fun art to practice. So the majority of my day is doing what I love with the woman I love. I cook. I sleep. I live in my oasis. And being too busy was like pinching myself to see if I am dreaming or not. I am in a dream 99% of my life. And that’s the way I prefer it.