Task 35 – Do as you like
Do what you want to do
It is interesting to photograph your own children. You become extra aware of their distinctive characteristics. Torbjørn has a strong tendency to find his own way and does not stop once he starts. I think this picture is a good illustration of that. By the largest fig tree in Europe, in the center of Palermo, Italians stared strangely at us as we let our children climb so high up it. There is a risk with going your own way. Most often, we only see the next step in front of us and we only have a glimpse of the goal in sight. We have to try our best to move forward and tolerate going into a dead end where we first thought there was a way out. The shortcuts are tempting to take but can be deceptive. As a rule, the longest detours are the ones that lead us forward.
Palermo, Italy, 2012. Photo: Torkil Færø
Meeting others’ expectations
Many patients I meet don’t do what they want to. I asked this naïve question to a burned-out patient who sat in front of me. I was still a new doctor in the county and had worked with more tangible issues in the hospital such as heart attacks, blood clots, fractures, sprains, strokes and hernias. In general practice, the more diffuse lifestyle sicknesses are in the majority. My patient was sitting and twisting around in her chair. She looked as if I had shot her with a shot- gun. She answered, “I have never thought about that!”
Over time I have gotten used to hearing this answer from exhausted, worn out patients. Wasn’t there anything she liked to do? Yes, at the end of the consultation she suddenly thought of one thing. “Sometimes I have a warm bath.”
The patients who are the sickest usually don’t do what they want to do. Not only that, they do what other people want instead. It is a situation that won’t hold in the long run.
This is an issue that is reinforced in our educational system. Children are taught to fulfil the wishes of the teacher and the school. While growing up, many people try to live up to the expectations of their family. When you get your own family you may put the needs of your partner and children ahead of your own. At work your boss makes the decisions. Commercials constantly tell us what we should want. Slowly but surely, this wears us down.
Using all of one’s energy to live up to others’ expectations is a pervasive characteristic of burned-out people who show up at my doctor’s office. In this regard, what is important is to find the right balance. Both too little and too much focus on the expectations of others can be harmful. For example, if you have all of your attention focused on the expectations of oth- ers in your family, then it can be helpful to have a hobby where all you need to think about is your own well-being. If you have a job that satisfies both your own and others’ expectations, then perhaps you don’t feel the need to have a hobby as strongly.
The most disillusioned photographers are often professionals who work according to what others want and deliver their photos as they have been ordered, perhaps in a magazine where the same kind of photo is expected day after day. When the client’s needs decide the visual style and content, they often lose the joy of photography. Then, they don’t even have energy or a desire to do it in their free time.
Do you know someone who mostly lives according to other people’s expectations? How does this affect their surroundings? How often do you make choices based on the expecta- tions of others?
How relevant is this issue for you on a scale of 1 to 6?:
Working according to your own expectations
At our workshops, we always start by looking at 20 photos that the participants have taken previously. I try to adjust the instructions according to their individual starting points. I see a lot of smiling children, beautiful shots of the forest and not least sunsets over the sea, islets and rocks along the shore. The participants often bring with them the pictures they think they are supposed to take, like the ones they have seen others take. But during the course of the workshop they often begin to take the pictures they themselves want to take, which have their origin in their own lives and inner world. And thus, their photos become unique. Witnessing this is the greatest joy that I experience as a teacher!
When you find out what you really want to photograph you have come a long way! You will have more joy, more energy, more tolerance of mistakes and your lessons will be remembered better. Then your pictures will improve. You have little control over whether other people will like and appreciate them, so at least make sure you enjoy taking them yourself.
Wanting to satisfy other people is built into us. We don’t need to make an effort to enable this. What we need to try to do is to identify our own expectations and to prioritize them.
What do you want to take photos of right now?
On a scale of 1 to 6, how useful was this task for you?:
BOOK SUGGESTION: Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins