today we have no plans

I am sitting cross-legged on an excellent chair.  Drinking coffee, typing words.  Today, we have no plans.

The foyer of this place is beautiful.  High arches, wraparound internal balcony on the second floor, domed opaque glass for a ceiling, all lit up by the sun, without any of the heat.  The only other soul in this palacial retreat is Rach, curled up and surrounded by her journals, like an intellectual cat.

This week had it's moments.  Two nights ago I rode my bike out of work at 3am.  Last night I had clients until 9pm.  This week had deadlines and bills and walls.

But today, it's all done.  The muscle of life contracted, clenched, choked, but has now released again.  Breathing free.  

I suppose this is how everything happens:  

Tense.  Release.
Breathe in.  Breathe out.
Conflict.  Peace.
Pain.  Healing.

I suppose, if I'm being completely honest, today wouldn't mean anything to me without the preceding conflict.  It would just be another day.  Boring, even.  But, because of the perspective afforded by conflict, I can truly appreciate the zero.

Today, we have no plans, and I am joyfully grateful, and I am being in, and enjoying every second of, this moment.

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between the problem and the solution

The way a problem works, is that it arrives out of nowhere, we scramble to find a solution as fast as possible to avoid any discomfort, and then when we have the solution, the problem goes away and we move on. 

Which, unfortunately, means we’ve learnt nothing about ourselves.   

If we are truly going to grow in life, if we are going to actually transcend our “normal” into a life we’d be proud to live, then we need to step back and notice what’s happening between the problem and the solution.

We need to see ourselves, watch how we react, consider why we are doing what we are doing.  No judgement, just compassionate honesty.

Is it fear?  Chasing comfort?  Ignoring the obvious? 

If we are not aware of ourselves when a problem hits, then we’ll just automate our response to it, and it will cycle back again.

Being aware allows you to move forward.  Grow.  And when you’re done, you might even be able to thank the problem, instead of fearing it’s return. 

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work

Deep breath.  Settle in.

It just hit midnight here, and I’m alone with the city.  All the tall buildings, the great ventricles of the city, have pumped out their last suited human, and are in a cardiac rest until the morning.  Their lights have been left on, to compete with the stars, I think.

But the stars still win.  The Southern Cross constellation is right in front of me, close, like it’s strung up between the Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton buildings.  Like we missed a decoration when we were clearing out Christmas.

Rach said the moon was close tonight too.  She texted me three hours ago, and said it was exceptional, that it sat in profile, all proud of itself for shining beautiful.

I missed it completely.  

I think this is the part of life that breaks us.  Not the late nights.  Not even the deadlines.  It’s not the hard work.

What breaks us is the pouring of our best hours into a vision that is not our own.  It’s giving our best to something that doesn’t love us.

I’ll happily work all night for those whom I love, and who love me.  I’ll pull an all-nighter to unpack an exciting idea onto a page.  I’ll hustle so hard for those things in life I consider meaningful.  

But, to put in hours of my day into a generic job?  That is like death.  That’s like pumping tiny suited bodies into my cubicles and letting them use up my best resources, only to leave at the end of the day without a word of thanks.

I’m with you, city buildings.  I get it.
Sometimes you just want to fill yourself with inspired meaningful work, hey?
To know that worthwhile progress has been made this day.  Progress towards a better world.

I think we should do work that matters.  We should put a bouncer at the door and be selective about who will work within our walls.  

“Joyful optimism?  Come on in.  Your desk is over by the window.”
“Grit?  Take the top floor.”
“Prideful comparison?  Sorry dude, there no space here for you today.”
“Love?  Right this way.  Take the boardroom.”

If I were that building, then at the end of the day, when all my people have emptied out of me and I was at rest again, I would turn on every light I had.  I’d be so energised, I’d give the stars a run for their shine.  And the great exhausted buildings beside me would start asking whether, maybe, they could borrow my bouncer for a day or two.

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I never wanted to be a photographer.

I never wanted to be a photographer.
I wanted to be a storyteller.  I wanted to tell people stories about themselves.  The kinds of stories they should already know, but had somehow lost along the way.

Stories like, 
“You are amazing.”
“You are resilient.”
“You are broken, but also whole.”
“You are love(d).”

So I picked up a camera, and stepped into the world of weddings, and showed these amazing couples the sparks between them.  I wanted them to know that the most magic thing about their wedding wasn’t the party, nor the vows and promises.  It wasn’t even that they were loved.  
The most magic thing, was that they themselves, were love.  That’s the story I’ve been telling in every wedding I’ve every shot.

You.  Are love(d).

chasing ourselves

“Rachel Callander, award-winning photographer, gives up wedding photography to evangelise the Health System.”
“Nathan Maddigan, award-winning photographer, gives up wedding photography to persue authentic story craft.”

It doesn’t matter, really.  What the papers say.  What the fans say.  What the critics say.  

What matters, is that we chase ourselves.

What I mean is, every day of our lives, we are learning more about ourselves, what we love, what we believe in, what we despise.  And the more we learn, the greater the responsibility to act.  

We need to chase down our authentic core.  Every time we unearth a clue, every time we discover a piece of the puzzle that is “us”, we must chase it.  We can’t just ignore what we know to be true about ourselves.  If we do that, then eventually we’ll become that person that Viktor Frankl describes who “cannot find meaning, so, numbs himself with pleasure”.
 

twenty eighteen

It’s almost midnight, and I can’t sleep just yet.  I wish there was a great inspired reason, but to be honest, I probably had a bit too much caffeine too late in the day.  So, instead of sleeping, I’m out here on the balcony of our 6th floor apartment, watching conversations on the street, and drinking whisky, and writing.  A truck just drove by, loaded up with Christmas decorations.  Like a giant tinsel-spider, folded up and put to rest for another year.

The world is getting back to work.

And so are we.  Rach and I.  We took some time out, drove 400 kilometres to the southernmost tip of Western Australia, and made our plans.  
We said, “Life is not long.  We have to do meaningful work”.  
We said, “No matter what, we need to do work that matters.”
We took stock of what we have, and what we need to get our message out.  We pooled all of our stuff, everything of value.
We climbed a mountain, and talked about Love.  
Rach said the clouds felt closer up here.

Tonight Rach sold her piano.