As seems to happen every year, Christmas is behind us. Years ago, I started to really feel that giving is really more joyful than getting. Christmas hasn’t been about what presents I get for some time. I would actually be fine without getting anything butt people who get me presents get frustrated when I shrug to their question of, “What do you want for Christmas?”. I feel like I need to come up with something just to keep them happy. More recently (and it completely goes against my nature and surprises me), I have to say that every Christmas really does get to be more and more about the people I share it with. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been through enough Christmases that I’ve figured out that the glitter and excitement of presents only lasts a short time and really doesn’t change your life at all. You’re either happy with your life, or you’re not. Stuff won’t fix that. Those people, on the other hand, bring me joy.. maybe it’s because I find it so hard to find people who I care about and who genuinely care back. Or.. maybe it’s just because every year brings me a little closer to the end of the road and I’m figuring out that being together is the only thing that really matters. I had a really good Christmas.
There are a couple days before everyone starts winding up for their New Years’ resolutions, plans and directions. But Christmas is really the end of the year for me. The two remaining weeks of the calendar year are just a formality. Christmas was just a few days ago but I simply can’t wait for New Years to talk about how excited I am for the coming year!
This past year, 2017, was the beginning of a lot of things.. most of which revolved around this idea of birthing several new creative endeavors, whether it was photography, writing, video or what have you. Like going for a long ride on the motorcycle, there’s a lot that goes into just figuring out what direction to take. Unlike the motorcycle, you can’t just pick a random heading and roll out.
This year, I decided to make a go of being a semi-pro. I narrowed down the type of work I want to do, although I might still have some narrowing to do. And, perhaps, some expanding. I set up several points of presence on the Internet and started, not just building a following, but meeting people who were interested and supported me. (I would love to have you all over for Christmas.) Perhaps the very coolest part of all of it has been that I’m getting to know some super cool people that I have mad respect for. They are so awesome and it’s my honor to know them at whatever level. I hope those friendships grow with time. And I hope to see many more develop. As a media producer, I love trying to help them get exposure, look good, draw a crowd… whatever I can do to help them.. because, you know, those relationships might be the best part of all of this.
From a skill perspective, I think I’ve gotten at least a little better in all the areas I work in. Some more than others. But better overall. I’m encouraged by it. I’ve heard many people talking about YouTube and saying that it’s all about the “long game”. You may not see success today.. or tomorrow. But you keep at it because it’s all about the “long game”. That just might be true in almost everything. We live in an instant world. Instant food.. gratification.. communication.. celebrity.. instant success. Personally, I like the idea of giving something a swing and moving on. Some people get that instant stuff. Very, very few. Usually, if you really want something, it often takes time and work. Lots of time. Lots of work.
I posted a thought a few weeks ago that, “The secret to success is determination. Talent.. skill.. education.. none of that matters if you quit before you arrive. Keep pressing!”. It wasn’t just meant to be a pithy soundbite. (You know.. written soundbite). I believe it. And when I lose focus or disappointments mount, I have to remind myself.
Like everyone else who’s trying to do something, I get my share of disappointments. The relationships that fall away. The people who are “friends” on Facebook but don’t seem to answer you.. much less reach out just to see how you’re doing or just say “hi”. Various groups that your part of who seem to not know who you are or want anything to do with you when you show up. And there are plenty of people who will take your work as long as they don’t have to pay you or give you credit. Apparently, it’s not THAT valuable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not angry about any of it. I’m disappointed. Maybe a little hurt. That’s pretty discouraging.
I once heard that most upset customers will never complain. Most will just walk away and you’ll never see them again. On the other hand, I had a boss who had just been promoted to the position. His first task was to fire me. (Whoa! Really?). My boss stood his ground and told them that, “He hasn’t worked for me yet. I’ll fix it.” He sat me down and told me what they were unhappy about and gave me a chance to fix it. I had no idea any of it was a problem. We worked together for a very long time and were friends for longer. Ha.. at one point, he worked for me. I guess the difference is that he cared enough to fix it and we both benefited from it. I will always be grateful to him.
“What’s your point, Chris?” I guess my point is that I can tick people off and have no idea what I’m doing wrong.
On the other hand, new things are always opening up. And there are.. for now.. until they stop answering my text messages.. people who support me. While it might sound cliche, those people give me great hope and keep me going. As I type this, I think I’m starting to realize that I’m a people-pleaser at heart. (Who knew? You’d think I’d be better at it.) For those people who support me, I want to make sure they don’t regret doing so. So I have to keep trying to get better at whatever content I’m putting out there. Just a little more entertaining. Just a little more thought-provoking. Just a little more engaging. For them. For you! They give me hope. I recently mentioned a '72 Ironhead that I'd like to rebuild this year. (Or.. if I don't rebuild it.. sell). I received so much support that I almost feel like I have to rebuild it now... like it's a community scoot or something. I feel a responsibility to the group... in a good way.
When I look at 2017, there were a few disappointments but there were far more encouragements. And I am SUPER stoked about the coming year! I’ve already laid a lot of foundation stuff like websites and where to buy prints. I have more of a name for myself than I did last year. I’ve got some great ideas for content. I’ve got some great trip ideas. I might have some ideas for publication. I’m getting more and more of it figured out. And I have some terrific people supporting me. (Yes, I mean you!) How can I not be excited??
But it's more than specific things. I almost feel like I could burst at the seams with childlike excitement about what's in store! And I don't know what that means. But it makes me almost giddy.
It’s gonna be a great year! I can't tell you how deeply I hope you come along and we get to do it together! Have a wonderful New Year. Make sure you come through it in one piece and I will see you on the other side... in 2018!
With my sincerest thanks,