10 Years Later

post-Hollywood delusions and the road less traveled

I meant to say this. No, actually I didn’t but I am going to anyway. So, I left L.A., left Hollywood, left the dream behind and created a new dream. I lived that dream and by living it, I destroyed that one as well. Let me see if I can explain.

So, while I was on the open road finding myself, writing in my journal, making pictures as the true photographers like to say, I found a very special thing. Some call it “faith”. Not any particular faith. Just a general trust in my reality, in myself, that doing the right thing was natural and that I would be protected if I took risks in order to do those things.

We traveled in our 1986 Vanagon Westfalia, we picked up strange hitchhikers, we cooked dinner for folks at rest stops and we camped on the side of deserted roads in the middle of nowhere, un-armed. We being me, my husband and our dog. This may seem strange or it may seem perfectly normal, I really don’t know, but it is what we did.

My plan was to become a full-time professional photographer. I had been part-time for several years. Self taught, I didn’t feel like I had really proven myself, I hadn’t done my own work. So I set out to photograph the American landscape and become a real photographer.

When we got back, we started working again. I put everything into my photographic work. I was making my career happen and it was remarkable. I was still living on faith and it appeared the universe was on my side. But, as more and more of the real world seeped into my consciousness, more and more of my faith dispersed. I felt un-safe, I didn’t trust that I would be taken care of, people did not seem to be on my side, rather they had their own agendas that I may or may not live up to. I felt like I was coming in last in a race I had to win in order to justify my very existence. I was losing my meaning.

As I watched it disappear, a little more day by day, helpless to save it, I grew more anxious. I worked longer hours, set bigger goals, chastised every effort. I remember so clearly standing in my favorite coffee shop, feeling distressed, talking to the owner/barista who also happened to be a surprisingly open minded pastor from the north of England, telling him what was happening. “Why I was losing this very special gift,” I asked, “Why couldn’t I hold on to it and follow my dream at the same time?”

He just looked at me and smiled. Neither of us had the answer. So, I kept going, year after year. Pushing and creating and creating and pushing and chasing my dream and making my dream and expanding my vision and following through and living my word until finally, I knew I could go no further. I was hitting the wall too hard this time and one song kept playing over and over in my head for months on end, it never stopped. “You’re lost little girl, you’re lost tell me who are you?” In Siouxsie’s voice not Jims but they are both my idols so it made it all the more intoxicating and overwhelming.

So I stopped. Again. But more fully this time. No going back this time, only way to move is forward. Into the great unknown, into the truth. And it hurts, big time. But not the hurt of hitting the wall. Not the desperate terror that one is going down and there is nothing to do but hang on and ride it out the best one can. This is the deep inner hurt of the unknown life being washed away. And as each wave carries it out piece by piece, you see it, you feel it and then you are forced let it go. And faith is not felt, just the absolute knowing that you have to go through this. Go through it or be damned and lost forever.