Having just gotten back from a week photographing an elite swim team in the USA, my mind has been on overdrive - flowing with ideas, thoughts and reflections.
With that, I felt compelled to share my experience, and more importantly, a deep reflection. As a passionate creative, I strive to see how I could use art as a means to simply be of service - of service to all those out their who are in pursuit of a deeper, more meaningful life. One that is measured through the life in our years, not simply the years in our life.
The premise of sharing these experiences however, is not simply to inspire - as ultimately, inspiration is easy. It comes in all shapes and sizes and is seemingly bursting through the floodgates of the virtual worlds that we increasingly live in.
Implementation, and action based change on the back of inspiration however- now that is transcendence. A passion and purpose that the Auburn swim team seek, day in, day out. Passion and purpose that we should all seek.
Athletes bound together by a persistent mindset based on the idea that hard work will always beat talent that does not work hard. A robust work ethic, channelled across by an empowering group of coaches, and athletes geared towards raising each other up to new levels of possibility - stoking each others fire in pursuit of excellence.
An approach based on the notion that when the heart is pure and fuelled by self-belief, extreme faith, unwavering patience and an unseating worth ethic, the universe conspires to support that goal. The Auburn swim team live this with every stroke, with every breath.
A recipe for success that has fuelled the team’s accomplishments for decades, and will undoubtedly hold fast, come what may.
Lines in the sand
Reflecting on all of the above, this project truly was one that ticked so many boxes for me - enabling me to be truly expressive in an environment that I am all too familiar with.
Yet the process, the journey, to get to this opportunity, was by no means linear, meme worthy, hashtag worthy - or whatever social media unfortunately may seem to misrepresent in the way I live my day to day life. It has, and will I have no doubt, continue to be a tough, gut wrenching, and often times lonely pursuit.
A pursuit which I set off on after having landed an advanced degree from a prestigious university and promising mainstream job offers, yet void of the one thing that truly mattered: passion fuelled purpose. Eventually the pain became so great, it landed me in a severe depression that was quick to be masked by drugs and alcohol.
At an all time low, I found myself at a crossroads - a choice to either dig deep and unleash the true self within, or to continue trickling down a dark withering path that I had become all too familiar with.
Letting all of what I knew as reality cast away into the abyss, I have spent the better half of the past couple of years travelling the world with a camera and notebook in hand, whilst setting off on ridiculously long sporting challenges - all in pursuit of peeling away the many masked layers that covered my true self . A meandering path which lead me to delve deep within, and embrace the inner child hidden inside.
Choices which initially were not just illogical, yet baffling in my seeming relationship for responsibility to 'myself'. Who I was told I should be - ought to be. Yet deep in the recesses of my soul, I knew with every aspect of my being that it was what I was meant to be doing, and will continue to keep on doing - come what may. Because it’s what makes my heart beat hardest. A path which has lead me to embrace the inner artist that was simmering inside, yearning to leap out and roar.
So with that. I turn my attention to you. Yes you. You the daughter, father, son, grandfather, mother, friend. The being behind whatever your identity may seemingly be.
And I ask you simply : What makes your heart beat hardest?
Answer this question for yourself. When the lights are off, and your head hits the pillow at night with nothing but your own very thoughts and feelings. Answer it, play with it, meditate on it - then move in that direction with every cell in your being.
Because in truth, nothing else matters.
Tap that vein, and allow the unexplainable positive expression to flow through - obliging you to transcend any self imposed limitations and artificial glass ceilings. In doing so, understanding the idea that legacy, meaning and purpose reside not in some indeterminate further, but only in the immediate now.
So with that, close your eyes - take a deep breath.
Then open - only to not only open your eyes, but heart to the world, embracing the idea that your own healing is the greatest message of hope for others.