At this moment, across town in a dark and dirty office, lies a small hard drive with my entire photographic portfolio on it – as it struggles to come to life. Discovering my drive was not functioning was the cherry on top of the week in which I accidentally deleted my entire photographic website. It’s been a week. (So if you’re looking for that, let me explain.) Is the universe trying to tell me something?
I believe in signs. I try to only invest a reasonable amount of hope in the signs I see, but that is asking a lot of rationality of me. I have always believed there was a larger, invisible net of beings and/or energy that was watching and interacting with us. Signs are one of the ways they communicate. Signs mean “Yes!” It’s validation from the universe.
I vividly remember the signs I’ve received. But I also remember the ultimate outcomes of those moments. So, do you listen to signs and irrationally move forward? Or do you resign to pressure and take the path already carved out by others? If signs are meant to tell us we are in the right place, why aren’t those moments easier and more effortless? What would you do? What should I do? Is this too many questions?
The Skull In The Room
I had just graduated college and moved away from home. I was living with my boyfriend in a dim subterranean apartment. We learned to recognize people by their steps. I was there to pursue my future acting career. He was there to be with me.
When I scored a highly sought-after internship with a well-known theatre, I clearly remember he and I screaming and laughing, spinning around our living room, hugging, and crying with joy. This was the dream. This was validation I was in the right place. We were in the right place. The signs pointed to “YES.” Our young and beautiful life was starting off on the right foot. Life had obeyed our wishes.
Within a year, I’m sobbing in a room with two Tony Awards, and one skull, facing the administrative heads of the theatre, as they pressure me to quit. I don’t fit in, they say. I’m not wanted. Time to go. The unpaid internship feels it would be better if I weren’t there – which is saying a lot. But I was also clear, even through tears I explained if given the choice I would be back the next day. If they wanted me to leave, they would have to ask me to go. This was my dream. This was my start. And there was no way in hell I was letting go that easy.
Within six months of the end of the internship – which I did complete, the boyfriend had moved out, I sank into depression, and my life was permanently off-track.
Yet, I still remember the incredible moment of glee and hope that he and I shared. It was one of the few times I felt life was working in my favor. I was dizzy from the hope of the moment. All signs pointed to “yes”. So what happened?
Black on Black
Trying to support myself as a photographer was a lot like making a bad choice every single day. The pressure to find something else; do something else; make more money, was like a dust that settled on every surface overnight, needing to be swept away in the morning. My passion was alive, and it made me alive. People were happy and grateful for my work. I was where I wanted to be, meeting the people that I wanted to meet and living a life that made me smile. But, I was losing money. I was disappointing and stressing people I cared about. I wasn’t succeeding. I was happy, and miserable, at the same time.
The pressure of constantly swimming upstream was a lot. I felt lost, alone and broken. What I wanted wasn’t coming to me – not easily. No matter how much I cared, worked or invested, the answer from the world seemed to be “no.”
One day, overwhelmed with defeat and considering my other options, I walked to my car across the blacktop parking lot. A small black object in the middle of the parking lot caught my eye. It wasn’t near my car. It didn’t shine. It was no bigger than a half dollar. It was unremarkable in every way. But I went to it anyway, and what I saw brought me up short. I was looking at the eyecup of my camera; a small but vital piece of rubber and plastic. Everyday cameras don’t have this piece – this belonged to my camera. Despite being in the middle of a busy parking lot, it was in perfect condition. I didn’t even realize it was missing and hadn’t had my camera out of my home in a week. Yet, here it was in my hand. I was stunned.
I felt that moment was a strong sign not to give up my passion. As though the universe was screaming “You see this! You see what others don’t. This is coming to you. Don’t give up.” The chances of finding this object, in this condition, at this place, were all impossible – and yet it had happened. Was it possible my photography career was the same way – hard to see, hard to notice, but there? I never found out. In the end, I did give it up. (Until now.)
The Silver String
I have always envisioned life as having a silver string running through it. The minute you catch the silver string, and successfully grasp it, moving forward into your fated future, life would suddenly move quickly and effortlessly. The world would align as if to say “Yes. This is right. Do this!” I have never caught my silver string, though I’ve thought I was close more than once.
At this moment, I’m investing in myself. I’m trying, once again, to be powered by my passions and my effervescence. Allow the things that make me feel awake and happy bring me my future. And I’ll be honest, a lot of this time has felt very, very close to catching my silver string. But each day I push back fear, worry, and stress. And still, I look for signs.
So when I when I magically end up erasing my photography website and possibly risk losing my entire photographic portfolio, I’m not entirely sure what to think about the messages I’m receiving from the universe.
But, I’m also not sure I care.