When I was 22, right before I officially founded Shadowlands, I did two things. First, I asked pretty much everyone I knew in town if they’d model for me for some conceptual photography ideas (keep in mind this was pre-photoshop and social media so I had absolutely no inspiration for this desire apart from my own heart). Second, I created a 60 page powerpoint (gulp) that I delivered on a CD to Fort Wayne’s Mayor (sorry Mr. Helmke) to try to convince him that he needed to start an organization along with me to help provide professional photography and marketing support to area non-profits who didn’t have the budget for it because I believed in the power of images to create action.
It’s ok to just let the presumptuousness of all of that sink in. I can see it.
But I didn’t have a dad who assumed life is the way that it should be. He taught me how to brainstorm without critique and he taught me to ask “I wonder how could we do that together?” So I didn’t assume anyone’s answers would necessarily be no. I didn’t assume doubt. I didn’t assume bitterness. I didn’t assume pride. I didn’t assume people publicly portrayed their inner desires. I didn’t assume all old people blew off young people. And I thought NOT going after inspired ideas was much more frightening than not doing anything. So I asked people to do “we’ve never done that before” things all of the time without thoroughly analyzing all of the negative “what if’s”. The “what if’s” are significantly worse imagined than real anyway…almost all of the time.
I miss my dad’s participation in my risk-taking and dreaming. I miss my mom’s words of affirmation. They were beautiful people, gone far too young. My parents left me with a hope that I will carry in my heart even though that hope has earned scars.
I won’t settle for mediocrity. And I won’t give up on being responsible to the mysterious combination of passions and skills that remain trapped in my being. I am now 20 years into Shadowlands’ formation. I can hardly believe it. And I am definitely still the same Aquarius dreaming up conceptual pieces to bring philosophies and stories to life — and working to provide visual communication support for people doing great things in our communities. The beating hearts of Shadowlands have not changed, but they have evolved. It’s time for me to bring the rhythms together in a whole new way.