to have and to be.

okay, okay, this is it, i promise.  the very core of you in my life right now have been asking me to post this, so finally here it is, in its entirety, for the world to take on.  originally written as a personal correspondence for a friend, now turned into a shared group discussion... it seems this theme has been on a lot of people's minds lately.  so here's my version of it.


... i thought about this in the shower this morning, and it was SUPER eloquent in my head, but now that i've re-read it after writing it all down, well, it's kinda a bit over the top. sorry! at any rate, here you go, dear:

i believe we know ourselves more as children than we do as adults. and when i say “ourselves” i don’t mean in the “who do you want to be” career path oriented way. that’s is what we are told we’re supposed “to do” but not who we are. what i mean by this is that as children, we know what drives us, what fulfills our day-to-day, what tugs at our curiosity, wonder and imagination, and what gives us complete freedom to develop. children are so much more intuitive about the world than we give them credit for. we start out as spontaneous balls of energy, waiting to consume the world around us, and somewhere along the lines, we push that out of the way to become who we ‘ought to be.’ 

i spent 32 years chasing after who i “ought to be” that i forgot who i was. perhaps it was being raised in a third-world country, or immigrating and starting all over from nothing, but my parents instilled this training and personal self-sacrifice in me so that I could “become” someone. what i believe they wanted to give me was the freedom to provide for myself, which is VERY important. but providing for yourself, and being yourself, are two different things.

so i ‘became’ three different professional people: a photographer, a filmmaker, an architect. and, along the way, i also added to my personal collection: starting with daughter and sister, i now added “wife” to this role. i chased these ideas, giving myself to them completely, believing this was who i am. and i am, to these people and for these moments, they are me, completely.  but at the same time, these titles are not the totality of me; they are just a bit of life goals achieved, caught on paper; they're little bits of ourselves we give to others. but it's not what we give to ourselves, it's not the true "me" of my childhood.

now don’t get me wrong, i think setting high goals and achieving them is a great lesson to be learned. and I’m not at all wanting to sound ungrateful for the work-ethic, unconditional love, and incredible upbringing my parents gave me, nor for higher learning or marriage itself. these things bring much depth to my story and to my understanding about things around me. but that’s not what I’m trying to get after.

what i’m getting at is this:
if you live your life going from point A to point B in order to better yourself, that’s fantastic, i applaud you for your ambition and determination. setting goals in motion and achieving them should happen more often. but somewhere along the lines you have to learn to just be and live, without any goals in mind, and no matter who you are on paper. and that is what i believe we must rekindle as adults, that is what children know so much about. In that middle zone ... [in that dash between the years on your tombstone] ...  you must also live and be who you really are. let go for a moment and really set yourself free…

i might hold the roles that i mentioned above, but who i really am - that wild child running barefoot through the fields of eastern europe - is so much more. she is an explorer, an adventurer, a story teller of silly things, an artist, a nomad, a city dweller, a village forager and mountain child, hungry to take on the world around her. she is more me than any title anyone can bestow on me...

these are the issues i’m dealing with now, these are the ideas that consume my work at the moment… i realized this past year’s personal art has all been centered on memory, belonging and mapping. i cannot help but think that this undercurrent of themes in my photography is all related to what i’ve mentioned above. because now that i’ve gone to the other side and find myself at “point B,” well, i feel like i barely lived these past 32 years – with the exception of the 8 years in macedonia, exploring and running wild in the mountains and by the lakes and rivers, completely in tune with who i am and living for no one but myself. and i intend on spending the next 32+ finding my true north and living unabashedly as any free, wild child would.


ps. here's itty bitty me on the street where i learned to walk and talk and explore non-stop.  kozara 17, bitola, macedonia.  circa 1981.