I just don’t have it in me right now to share what I had originally planned for you today. For the past few days, some thoughts have been weighing heavily on my mind and in an effort to be as authentic as I can, I’ve decided to instead share these thoughts, which seem to be endlessly circling in my mind lately.
A small disclaimer: I’m going to get very real with this post.
… deep breath…
Timing can really just be a…. b****, sometimes.
I’ve realized this after a few particular events these past few weeks have forced me to face this reality. What these events have taught me is a lesson I’d rather not swallow, but that, by talking it through with you, will hopefully make it a little bit more palatable. The lesson is this: you are never going to get exactly what you want, when you want, how you want it.
These rather grim thoughts stem, I believe, from one fundamental aspect of myself, and that is my imagination. Of course, I consider imagination to be one of the greatest gifts God has given me. With it I see new worlds and find ways to depict emotion in a tangible and beautiful way.
However, imagination has, at times, also been my greatest curse. The same tool that allows me to weave tales of magic and peace, also leads me to create expectations for situations and my own future that are often not fully realized.
And because I am a perfectionist, the fact that reality often falls short of these expectations can sometimes leave me feeling absolutely crushed. I begin to believe every hope I have ever had is just a fantasy.
Something that’s just not meant for me.
But here is the reality of life: these things are completely out of our control. At any given point, there are a million choices, actions, and intricacies that affect how your day, week, month, or year will turn out. Someone was late, someone made the wrong choice, or the weather wasn’t what we were expecting. Everything about life is centered around two things: everyone is capable of making their own choices, and, consequently, everything changes. Everything.
And here’s where this all ties in: When I moved to Boston (almost two years ago now), I thought two things would happen. First, I thought I would get married, and second, I thought I would start making a living off of my photography. In moving here, I felt as if I was making concrete steps towards achieving the two most important goals of my life. And I am not even close. While I might have made my choices about what I want, it isn’t just me that determines the results.
What is currently happening in my life certainly is not how I pictured the thread of my life to unravel. And as much as I hate it, I find myself at the mercy of others’ decisions and a timeline I would not have chosen. So as the events of the past few weeks have unfolded, I decided to seek the comfort found I can usually find in scanning through quotations, one of my favorite things to do when I am upset. As I scrolled through Pinterest (perhaps the best resource for this sort of thing, or really, any sort of thing), I found one quote that led me to begin to ask myself two questions:
Madeline, do you allow the timing to make the choice for you? Or do you decide what you want and, regardless of what the timing will be, go for it anyway?
As I’ve been thinking about this, turning this question over and over in my mind, what I’ve realized is the inconveniences of timing, falling short of expectations, and things beyond my control doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try.
So….what? Maybe the timeline you had envisioned was a lot shorter than the one you currently find yourself on. Maybe you had expected to have a new job a year ago, or you thought you would have found “the one” three years earlier, or you’re still five years away from achieving your number one goal in life. Just because the timing isn’t working out the way you want it to (whether something is coming too soon, or not soon enough), doesn’t change the amount of effort that you should devote to it.
I’m single, working a job I will never love, far from the people I care the very most about in this world. Timing, it would appear, is not on my side, but perhaps a shift in perspective is needed. When I look back at the events and experiences of my life, I’ve begun to realize a few things:
Because of timing, I could have been upset that my parents chose to move me to literally the other side of the world, just a few months prior to my senior year of high school. But rather, because of timing, I travelled the world and saw places and experiences that I could remember with a greater level of understanding and learning than I otherwise would have, had we moved when I was younger.
Because of timing, the study abroad I really wanted to go on was cancelled just a few months prior to my departure. But because of this, I was reassigned to a different study abroad group, where I met some of the best friends I have ever had. The kinds of friends that teach you how to illegally somersault down the entire Gloriette slopes in front of Schoenbrunn Palace and the friends that are always down to share their McDonald’s fries with you.
Because of timing, my inability to find a job immediately after college led me to spend an entire summer with three beautiful little girls as their au pair, traveling all over Europe in private jets and yachts, sleeping in fancy hotels, and enjoying wonderful summer evenings strolling the streets of historic Prague. How many people get an opportunity like that?
Sure, because of timing, I am forced to make decisions I don’t want to make, when all I really want is to be taken care of. And because of timing I have days where I cry in the car on my way home from work, partly because I’m overly emotional, and partly because the loneliness that sits in my chest like some un-fillable emptiness is just a little too present that day.
But because of timing, I am not the girl who is afraid to give everything I possibly can to a dream. I am the girl who is confident in herself (most of the time). The girl who knows what she is capable of. The girl who can figure it out and accomplish incredible things if she just keeps trying.
Because of timing, I WILL be the girl who will truly understand what it is I have achieved ten years from now, when I can look back and see everything timing didn’t allow me to have and everything timing instead granted me.
So I guess the lesson is this. As Gary Ryan Blair said:
“You cannot afford to wait for perfect conditions. Goal setting is often a matter of balancing timing against available resources. Opportunities are easily lost while waiting for perfect conditions.”
There are no perfect conditions. There is only now.
Say “yes” to that opportunity. Decide that today you’re going to start.
And know that timing may… and probably will, change your timeline, but it can never change your goal.
What does Passages and my college “Advanced Statistics for Political Science” class have in common?
Hours upon hours of research.
So I am being completely honest, and hopefully making my case, when I say I have never researched anything more in my life than I have Passages. While I would have thought this amount of research would have brought me back to the dark days of Pol Sci 328 (statistics really is the worst), the hours spent researching surprisingly hasn’t left me in a near panic state. Rather, over the past month, I have instead felt inspired.
“Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go.
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.
– Mother Goose
I first heard the poem Monday’s Child several years ago. It was a beautiful late summer afternoon, and I had just spent the day photographing my youngest sister in the flowerbeds of our back garden. Attempting (and failing) to find a caption to post with these images on Instagram, I eventually grew frustrated and asked my mom’s opinion.
“Monday’s child”, she told me.
Confused, I asked what Monday had to do with the image I was about to share.
My mom clarified, “No… it’s a poem. Look it up.”
As it turns out, the caption was perfect, especially considering the fact that my sister was actually born on a Monday. Fair of face seemed like a fitting description: my young, innocent sister surrounded by butterfly bushes and the vibrant blooms of late summer’s warmth. The perfect caption now found, I typed up the poem and shared it to my instagram feed.
Since that day, the poem Monday’s Child has remained at the back of my mind, tempting me for years to do a small series based around this whimsical description of each day of the week. With all my other projects going on, though, I never allowed myself to truly entertain the thought. However, with the premature ending of my 365 project, I found that I was itching to have my camera back in my hands. Monday’s Child was calling my name.
Oddly enough, I had exactly the right number of friends I needed for this project, which made this new mini-series seem like it was meant to be. In my mind, I felt that this would be the perfect way for me to remember, years from now, all the silly adventures I dragged my friends through. Perhaps they’ve just been humoring my (sometimes ridiculous) passion for storytelling, but my time spent wandering through forests or shooting in my cramped dining room with these ladies are some of my favorite memories here in Boston.
The night we shot the first three images in the series, we spent the evening sharing a meal and listened to music as we laughed and relaxed with each other. After our meal, we folded up my antique dining room table, converting the space into my studio, and began to recreate this poem. Costumes donned, black backdrop in place, we continued to giggle (which sounds so ridiculous, but it always inevitably happens when girlfriends are together) as we created the images for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday’s children.
Although I have yet to photograph the rest of the week (meaning posting these today will be sharing them out of order) I wanted to show you anyway. Patience has never been a virtue of mine, but I think when it means I get to share new images earlier, it is alright.
I’d be curious to know if you can guess which day is which. Did I make it fairly obvious, or does it leave you wondering? Please tell me in the comments below!