“Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.”
We are very familiar with the 1200 mile drive to see our family in Canada. We know all the McDonalds with playgrounds from Denver to Central Alberta..all of them. We know exactly how far we can drive before our tank is half empty. We know we can drive from Shelby, Montana to Grandma and Papa’s house on a tank of gas, with about 50 miles to spare. We now know where there are Red Boxes along I-25 so that we can rent and drop off a movie all in the same day. We know where the gas station is where we can change the kids in their pajamas for our last stop before we hit Great Falls and load up on energy drinks for the long drive through the night. These are the things we know. What we don’t know is if there is going to be a deer jetting out at us in the dark on the one lane drive from Billings, Montana to Great Falls, Montana…so we white knuckle it all the way (BTW, road kill is on a whole different level in the middle of nowhere). We don’t know if we are going to get a flat in the middle of Nowhereville. We don’t know how much the weather will change as we progress closer north or if we are going to get caught in a freak storm like we have been in the past. There are SO many unknowns, not just on road trips but in life.
Just this past Thursday, we got an call that a family member had passed away. Shock, disbelief, extreme sadness and lots of tears were some of the initial emotions we experience. On the same day we were celebrating my *ahem* “22nd birthday (humor me puh-lease), we got the phone call of his passing. Without going in to too much detail, whether expected or unexpected, death is such a hard thing to deal with. It’s not something you can ever prepare for emotionally. It’s not a feeling that you ever want to feel or experience. It’s not ever something you want to talk about or even take your mind to. It’s just devastating.
I was preparing to write about journey to define my “brand” as a photographer…talk about how indecisive I am when it comes to making decisions about me, how bi polar my fashion sense is, how much interior design and fashion will play a role in my “brand”, bleh bleh bleh. But really, as much as I want to discover and embrace a brand that truly represents me, it’s times like this that make me realize how much energy and emotion I waste on things that are trivial. Bottom line, when I die, my obituary will not tell of how creative and unique my photography brand was in depicting me as a person. Yes, photography plays a large role in my life, but my loved ones will not care if I used grays, blues, greens or blacks as my blog theme. They won’t care if my camera logo has lots of sparkles coming out of it’s flash. They won’t care what 3 types of fonts I chose. They won’t care if I had my own domain or if I use blogspot. NONE of this matters to my family. So why should it matter to me?
As I helped edit the preliminary drafts of Uncle Lenard’s obituary, what stuck out was all the precious memories that each person encountered with him. The memories reflected the joy that he brought to all his nieces and nephews playing “pick a hand”, his funny sayings, his love for bonfires, his love for his children, his love for his family, his character, the things that made Uncle Lenard unique and loved. When I think about the day that my obituary will be read, it really shifts the focus from what I “thought” was important to what IS important. Does this mean I neglect the other things that in the grand scheme of things are considered trivial? Nope, it just means I put them behind the list of things that are most important to me and not allow them to take priority over the things that I treasure. I am not guaranteed tomorrow, so if takes me a life time to define my “brand” as a business, I will be okay with that because I spent a lifetime branding the character and legacy that I wanted to be.“Impart as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road with you, and accept as something precious what comes back to you from them.”
And to the sweet lady who was a complete stranger to us in Great Falls, Montana…thank you for sharing your birthday cake with us. The gift of generosity and kindness was the best gift you could have given me on my birthday!