Confession… I’m a judgmental person. I try to fight it but it’s deeply ingrained. Being aware of this character flaw, I feel, is a step in the right direction of becoming a less-judgmental, more loving and kind human. That said… nothing flips my judgement switch quicker than gift-shop kitsch. Not what you expected? I’ll explain.
You know the t-shirts, earrings, necklaces, pencil pouches, pins and buttons… for music lovers, travel lovers, coffee lovers, photographers. These are items possessed by those who fell in love with the idea of something but never married it. They wanted to feel it deeply in the core of their soul, but it never quite clicked, so instead they express outwardly what they subconsciously wish they understood… I’ve seen these enthusiasts as “tourists” rather than long-time residents. Passers-by that are out to prove they “saw and did and got the t-shirt” but that could never truly understand the life experience of a card-carrying citizen of the place. The people who “get it” – the ones who do feel it deeply, in the core of themselves, are too busy living out that passion to toy around with such kitsch.
Over the past few busy “workaholic” style years, a growing, gnawing feeling in my stomach has been telling me to slow down, shut down if I had to, turn it off and allow myself to breathe. With my last pregnancy, resulting in the birth of a beautiful and amazing little boy (who will be a year old next week and no I don’t want to talk about it…) I was forced to slow my roll and figure things out. While the decision to slow down was natural, final and freeing there have been many emotions and mini-freak-outs to deal with. Inner peace with a side of uncertainty.
I am asked frequently if I’m still “doing photography” – a question I cringe at. Yes. I’m still “doing photography” – if by that you mean, I’m still married to photography. I still love photography deeply; it’s in my soul in a place that it aches when the shutter clicks and the light is right and the photo is locked in place and I can share that beauty and evoke an ooh and an ahh and create something that will last longer than me… create something that’s bigger than me. I could never give this up. I’m a permanent resident. I’m not a tourist, here. I’m never leaving. It’s never leaving me.
I’m shooting once or twice a month and about half of that I’m sharing on social media. Not because I’m displeased with the results, but because I don’t have time or brain space to care about self-promotion or affirmation like, “Carly, you are fantastic, your work could cure cancer,” because my priorities and goals are so different now than they have been in years. And I am so, so at peace with that. Forgive me, though, that I struggle to say it out loud. To admit that perhaps there is a season in my life where, on the outside looking in, it may appear that I am a tourist here. I’m a judgmental person as I have said. It’s easy to assume that there are those judging me back…
All of this said, I bought myself a little something and I wear it proudly – a tongue-in-cheek statement to myself, a reminder that I have nothing to prove and I don’t need to explain myself, that I am a permanent resident and I got the t-shirt. Mom is gonna snap. That’s the season of life I’m in; I’m wearing it on my shirt. And my heart.
And I am not a tourist here.