Last Friday morning, I decided to take the Go Train into Toronto rather than drive my car. Now it’s not often that I ride the train into the city, but when I do, I typically take a good book with me. And this trip was no different. Actually, on this trip I brought my book, The $100 Dollar Startup by Chris Guillebeau, and I was looking forward to having 45 minutes to myself for reading.
About 15 minutes into the ride however, the person sitting across from me, lets call her Jamie, started asking me about the book I was reading. I promptly told her that I was reading a book about regular, every-day people who started a business for very little money down, and who were profiting at least $50,000 annually in their business. (Truth be told, I just wanted the conversation to be over and get back to reading.)
However, Jamie was persistent. She wanted to know more – she was curious. As it turned out, Jamie was in her final year of studies at OCAD University in the Faculty of Art. Jamie was a photographer and was in that stage in life where she was asking the big questions: “What’s next for me?” and “Where do I go from here?” and “Should I start my own business or try to find work with an existing studio?”
I knew that I needed to continue this conversation with her, so I asked her what she loved about photography. In other words, “What did photography give her?”
Jamie’s face lit up as she went on to share with me all the things she enjoyed about being a photographer. She talked about loving the feel of the camera in her hands and the pleasure she felt when seeing and capturing life through the “eye” of the camera. She was passionate about still life photography and images of people and animals and nature in the height of their glory. (Jamie was also a big outdoor enthusiast and her photography reflected that.)
Again I asked her why this type of photography was important to her. She waited, and waited, and then looked at me and whispered, “It makes me feel alive!”
It was a sublime moment, because in that moment Jamie witnessed something about herself that she had rarely taken the time to notice. Her shoulders, her facial muscles and her breathing were all in agreement, testifying that she was resting in a moment of clarity.
This conversation on the Go Train reminded me that we often get lost in the details and big questions of life. We may have limiting beliefs about who we think we are and what we should be doing with our life. Our unchecked beliefs can cause us to feel stuck in the murky waters of the anxious mind: “What am I to do?” and “What is my life purpose?” and “What am I good at?” and “What am I passionate about?” and “What should I study and learn?” and “Where should I live and work?” and “Will I ever know what I truly want?”
Side note: Have you noticed that most of your questions are either future or past oriented and remove you from living life fully in the present?
Just like my son Jonathan discovered around his fear of not being good enough, fear can blind you from noticing your own natural abilities, gifts, resources and needs. Fear can keep you tethered to the “safety of your problems” rather than soaring free and living life from a place of solidity that comes from knowing who you are and what truly matters.
Last Friday morning, Jamie uncovered a few key things about herself while taking the train to Toronto. She discovered that photography was a way, or a vehicle to help her experience what she truly valued. Jamie values vitality, creativity, excellence and curiosity; and through her gifts and abilities as a photographer, she is able to experience a state of congruence and flow within herself and with the world around her.
No, I didn’t get too far in my new book last Friday morning, but I was presented with a wonderful gift; a transforming conversation with a stranger and the opportunity to witness a glimpse of her brilliance.
Today’s Unitas Project:
- As you read the quotes below by Eleanor Roosevelt and Steve Jobs, what do you notice?
- “To be mature you have to realize what you value most. It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbours, of their parents or family. Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
- “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” ~ Steve Jobs
- How might you best support yourself today in exploring what you value most?
Until next time…
Be You. Be Unitas.
Photo taken by Alina Joy Photography