Two summers ago, right around the time I'd made the decision that I was going to turn in my resignation to my employer, I happened to be on Manzanita Beach, Oregon, with several girlfriends for a weekend getaway. While there, I was walking down the main drive, and noticed a shop named "Syzygy."
I remember being startled: for years now, the word "syzygy" has been my favourite word. It's an astronomical term meaning "an alignment of 3 or more celestial bodies," but it can also be used metaphorically, as well, to mean "in balance" -- like, for example, your life feeling like it's in syzygy.
Also, it's fun to say and it's fun to spell.
Naturally, I went inside. It was a little boutique, filled with great clothes and great jewelry, and in one display case, there were these tiny little pendants -- no bigger than a pea, really -- with words engraved in them. One, in particular caught my eye: it said "true." Since, at the time, quitting my job felt like something I had to do in order to be more true to myself, I immediately bought the charm. I wore it for the year that followed, to remind me to always make choices that allow me to remain true.
The following year -- 2009 -- I returned to Manzanita, and revisited the little store. This time, I found a different pendant, one that said "beauty." Since I had just begun working on The Beauty of Different, it seemed like a good reminder to constantly search for beauty as I worked on the book, so I bought it.
In both cases, I have to say that it has really helped me to have a word to focus on as I went through my daily life and career. The first year that I left the safety and security of a corporate world behind me, the temptation to just take any gig that paid money was overwhelming, and it was good to have the word "true" as a guidepost, to help me make the right kinds of decisions for myself (there were even times I ignored the word completely, and paid the consequences as a result. They were a good lessons). The second year, the reminder to find beauty wherever I looked definitely helped as I worked on the book, and in general, I feel like over the last year my photography has improved because of this very conscious focus.
So this fall, while I didn't return to Manzanita or the little store, I still felt moved to come up with a word to carry me for the year forward. So I was thinking about it, and a couple of months ago, the word that kept coming to mind was "inspire." Certainly, the word "inspire" struck me due to the fact that the book is about to go out in the world and I hope that it inspires someone; however, that's actually the lesser reason: the truth is that I also want to inspire myself. This time last year, I was embarking on the huge project of writing the book; this coming year, while certainly there will be a lot of activity around marketing the book, it's sort of strange not having a huge project or deadline ahead me, requiring me to create as much as I'd been doing. And I want to remind myself that I need to keep challenging and inspiring myself to keep creating.
Over the weekend, I was looking at art and photography and synopses of books online and feeling a bit discouraged, so I decided to go on a photo walk, and think about the ways that I hope I can bring more inspiration in my life over the coming year. So I thought I'd share what I came up with here, so that perhaps, all mondo-beyondo style, I can manifest some of these dreams in the coming months:
- I would love opportunities to travel to fantastically exotic, not-often-seen places, anywhere in the world, to photograph the people and their towns and villages and learn new ways of life and new ways of thinking. I want to share their beautiful faces and stories here with you, so we can talk about our impressions and revelations and inspire each other.
- I would love to travel to different places and hold beautifully different events around book signings and readings, not just because I love speaking (though I do), but because I would love to meet as many of you in person and thank you for all the encouragement you've given me along the way, face-to-face. I'd love to connect with you and hear your own stories.
- And finally, I would love to come up with a concept for another book -- one that grabs me with the force that The Beauty of Different grabbed me, one that lends itself to photography and words as well. I have no idea what that concept is yet, but I'll know it when I think of it.
There. Let's see if those manifest. And if you'd like to make some wild dreams for yourself -- not resolutions or goals, you understand, save those for the actual end of the year -- but just things you'd love to see happen for yourself in the coming year, feel free to leave them in the comments. (Feel free to leave your word for the year in the comments too, if you think of one.)
Because I just love the potentiality that comes with writing these sorts of things down.
Image: Photographed on my walk over the weekend with my Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens