Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Will Become Of Me

Photo: In the jungles of Honduras, December 2008.

After every major assignment, my boss and I have a sit down meeting to discuss the mission, debrief on the events that unfolded and catch up on loose-ends. I sit at one end of the room, he sits at the other, and eye to eye, we talk story, logistics, the economics of our trade, and most of all--life in general.

But after this past assignment in India and Pakistan, he asked me a question that he normally doesn't ask: What do you want to do?

At first, I thought he was referring to my vacation time, where I wanted to stay during my next assignment, or what equipment I needed to replace. But the question was beyond that, far beyond the realms of what I had anticipated. Caught off guard, my mind began to ponder, the air got thicker, and in the synapse of a moment I saw my youth flash before my eyes.

It was like being twelve again when I sat face to face with my guidance councillor--nervous and light headed, I had to decide whether I wanted to become an engineer or a doctor, a teacher or a cop. Slowly tilting my head from the ground, I looked at him, noticed the custodian cleaning behind his shoulder and replied, "I want to become a janitor, sir." My voice shook 5.2 on the richter scale.

But this time was different. This was seventeen years later--and believe it or not, I'm a bit smarter now--more confident, too. After a brief moment to let the question sink in, I knew what he meant. He was simply looking out for me. It's not a secret--it's inevitable that one day I'd have to put my camera down, smell the roses and maybe even build a white picket fence of my own. There's more to life than traversing the world, going in and out of hostile zones, or surviving in jungles and rainforest's. There's more to it, I know.

But for now, I told him this is all I know. This is what I'm good at--and to be quite honest, this makes me happy. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make, a step forward I'm determined to take. I don't know where I want to be five years from now, who I want to become when I'm distilled and wrinkled, or why I've decided to take the road less or most travelled--but what I do know is that everyday is a new day for me, every morning is a new destination, a new background and new people to meet. And to me, right now, at this very moment in my life, I'm richer because of it--wealthier than any silver lining to hug the contours of my soul.

You know what, I wake up every morning in amazement--sit on my bed and wonder to myself how lucky I am. It still brings a smile to my face when I realize that people actually pay me to do what I do. Wow...who'd ever thought?

Come to think of it, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.


Trevor Booth said...

Well said!

Wander to the Wayside said...

And lucky for us that for now you're staying the path. (F.Y.I., I hope you don't mind, but I posted about you today ...)

Dan Denardo said...

Nice post, man.

By the way, my equipment made it safe and sound in SD. Gotta love that foam. I may try shipping a case or two FEDEX next time around. I know several guys who do that. They claim it saves $$$ and prevents headaches.

canadasue said...

Delicious writing this...
"don't know where I want to be five years from now, who I want to become when I'm distilled and wrinkled, or why I've decided to take the road less or most travelled--but what I do know is that everyday is a new day for me, every morning is a new destination, a new background and new people to meet. And to me, right now, at this very moment in my life, I'm richer because of it--wealthier than any silver lining to hug the contours of my soul."

the idea of aging as distillation... made me thrum with agreement...

Vera said...

Hi Ron, I've never made plans in regards to what direction that I wanted my life to go in, and now I am 62, I am amazed at the way my life has kept leading me forward. The key to having an interesting and lively life is, as you are doing, taking each step as it comes along, and enjoying that step for what it has to give you. Not many people can do that Most like to stay safe and remain where they are. Think of all those years ahead which remain, as yet, undiscovered! Wow! and Blessings.

The Demigoddess said...

Next stop: Las Vegas for your wedding..and then a six-month vacation in the Bahamas.

I feel you on this, Ron. I am at that point, too. I feel like I need a new direction. But as long as you're happy, keep doing what you love doing.

Bon Don said...

Oh Ron, How I've missed you my friend! ...I still read your stories, i just get to caught up to come back at night to comment. I suck. BUT I shall suck no more (wait what am I even talking about now) ;)

Bon Don's Baaaack <3

SearchingSoul said...

Hi Ron,

That's a question I fear to answer now. I guess I should take it from you: Just do what makes me happy now and try to look for people who would pay me for doing it. This is not the time to figure out what lies beyond tomorrow.

Your writing never cease to amaze me. I thank you for that.

Be well always.

Ava said...

Life is short, no need to think too much about the future as long as you know what you are doing and are happy with it today :D

Sarah, The New Girl said...

I'm so stubborn about that question. as if there's only one thing I want to do! way too simplified. plus... that whole "growing up" thing is frighteningly ambiguous. if growing up is picking on career and sticking with it for life, not trying new things, slowing down on adventures... than growing up isn't for me! wouldn't mind a white picket fence, though :)

nice of your boss to ask, but as long as you've got this thing that you love... don't see why you'd need to be planning anything else!!!

Ron said...

Trevor: Thanks man! Glad you made to my blog.

Wander: I think I'll be doing this for a long long time, no worries there! Thankyou again for including me in your post.

Dan: Hmm, I've never thought about fedex'ing anything to a shoot...we should look into that. Good idea!

CanadaSue:Thank you for reading. I hope Cambodia is treating you well.

Vera: I love your philosophy on life. I look forward to talking to you more in the near future. I think we have a lot in common when it comes to living life! Thank you for reading.

Angel: 6 months in the Bahamas? Wow!!! What would I do there for 6 months? Maybe learn how to swim? Are you coming with me?

BonDon: I think of you often and I miss you too! Glad you're back. Behave yourself young lady!

SS: Yes, please continue to find what makes you happy. Happiness will lead the way to many things beyond money and materialistic things. I don't know much, but I do know that finding something that makes you happy day by day is vital to life. Hope you're well.

Ava: That's exactly the philosophy I live by. Thank you for reading.

Sarah: I understand your stubborness too. I was like that when I was in school, but as soon as I finished, I just let it all go. I think you'll do that too...or maybe let it go little by little. Worrying is good, but don't spend too much time worrying and planning...that's just my opinion.

Oz Girl said...

Stopped by via Wander's blog... such wonderful, soulful writing here. I love what you're doing too. :) Maybe even a lil jealous. I've always loved to travel, but your job is so much bigger than just "travelling". Seeing the human soul, the bad and the good, in these other cultures that most American have no clue about (nor do they want to know, ignorance is bliss)... seeing these other cultures and what they endure on a daily basis should make us all the more thankful for the blessings we have here in America. And I think I have an even bigger blessing than most by living in the country on 26 acres, away from the maddening hum of the big city.

Anyway, I rattle on. Great blog here! I'll be stopping back. :)

Constructive Attitude said...

Why cant THIS be what you want to do? Is it so wrong to do what you love for the rest of life? It may not be the "norm" but if you love it, keep doing it. Otherwise you will just be miserable for the rest of your life.

Cheryl said...

I want to be a cloud.
Be a cloud with me!

Sorry. I should be more supportive, and not crack jokes.

TheChicGeek said...

I love this picture, Ron. You are so lucky, so blessed and such a neat person! How lucky you are to have a boss that actually cares to please you! I love visiting you so much...I always leave uplifted and smiling :D

Stay Safe and Be Well!
Hugs :D

canadasue said...

I'm continually surprised by Cambodia... and more often than not the surprises are positive... Joy and beauty punctuate my day with goodness.

The food seems to be the best of eastern asian and the best of sub-continental indian food combined... the humidity has helped my skin look 10 years younger and while I'm eating a lot yet I'm losing weight... I'm pretty sure no parasites are involved:)

Yes, many face what seem to be insurmountable obstacles here yet the grace with which it is done has my admiration on every level...

Hope Brazil shows "herself" to you in meaningful ways!

floreta said...

aww, but you're DOING it. it seems like you're doing exactly what you want to do. i remember your very first comment on my blog. something about how your work doesn't allow you to make personal relationships and allow you to experience things like a marriage.. something you think about nearly every day. but, i think it's definitely, still, a sacrifice you're willing to make, as you've said. who knows if that will change. you don't have to know now or 'figure it out'. just live each day. your heart will know when or if it's time to move on. and your heart will know what's next.

John said...

Bro, I thought you told me something... nevermind.

I can tell that you still love what you are doing now, 5 years down the road. That's the most important thing. Having fun and getting what you want out of life.

You have my support and prayers bro, all the way.