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[by Charles Gupton]
“It’s a miracle she’s alive.”
The surgeon was reporting on the success of removing my wife’s burst appendix and the tumor she’d found while doing the procedure. Linda had miraculously walked around for two weeks feeling bad but having no idea her body was harboring a life-threatening medical condition.
Like most of the small business owners I’m aware of, I put in far more hours at my desk – productive or not – than the standard 40 hour workweek calls for. We both – and me in particular – stay focused on business development far more than on a life balanced with adequate time off to unwind and re-nourish our minds as well as our bodies.
We hardly ever get sick and have taken our good health for granted. This procedure saved her life and caused me to stop and reconsider what I really valued in my own. I made a covenant that morning to make a series of changes to re-infuse my work with aspects that I love, reduce the tedium where possible, and most importantly, to take some time away from the process so that I could return with a fresh and energized perspective.
Since Linda’s surgery, I’ve taken several partial weekdays off and we’ve added additional days for personal time away on two separate trips with the sole purpose of letting our minds wander and bodies rest.
In my quest for efficiency and effectiveness in most activities, it’s difficult for me to not try to apply metrics to taking leisure time. I want to measure how much more effective I am after I’ve rested, but of course it doesn’t play out that way.
But I have noticed that my perspective is undergoing change. I’m narrowing my focus on the types of projects as well as the qualities I look for in the people we’ll be working with before we commit to a project.
And I’ve come back with less envy for people who are wise enough to mark time on their calendars for renewal. Envy is a thief of creativity, I’ve found.
The biggest upside to my productivity is that since I’ve started scheduling rejuvenation breaks, my focus and efficiency have greatly improved.
In his book, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Stuart Brown writes, “Play can change your life. Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival.
There is a kind of magic in play. What might seem like a frivolous or even a childish pursuit is ultimately beneficial. It’s paradoxical that a little bit of ‘nonproductive’ activity can make one enormously more productive and invigorated in other aspects of life.”
Excuse me, I believe I need to take a book out to the hammock and hold it down for a bit so the afternoon breeze doesn’t blow it away….
Based in Raleigh, N.C., Charles uncovers stories that resonate, then tells them in three-minute films to engage clients for business on the web. You can connect with him at:
The hectic life of a working photographer leaves little time for the relaxation, rejuvenation and play needed for true innovation and creativity. This week, our contributors explore the challenge of balancing labor with leisure and how photographers can get the most out of both.
I was watching “The Lone Ranger” on TV yesterday. It’s possible I’m the only person in America who saw the whole damn thing. Major bomb, it was. (Who knew Jerry Bruckheimer could fail at anything?)
The movie wasn’t half as bad as I expected. (And boy, is that Armie Hammer a handsome man.) It was clear they spent more money filming than Roman Abramovich drops on soccer talent. Wow, did Disney waste some cash on that ridiculous runaway train sequence.
I wasn’t surprised at the movie’s lack of mass appeal, though. They focused on the dark underbelly of American history: the theft of Native American land in the name of progress. (Sorry, I meant greed.) In particular, they made sure to demonstrate that treaties were made, and then broken, under dubious circumstances.
Does anyone really think that’s a good idea to hammer home, in the name of mass-market-summertainment? Who green-lit that premise, Noam Chomsky?
They even had poor Barry Pepper dressed up like George Custer, playing a military sap who unwittingly massacred a heap Comanche for the RailRoad Conglomerate, and then went full-scale denial when he learned the truth. Wonder who that little metaphor might be referencing? Oh. That’s right.
On Twitter, I was recently accused of being a closeted Englishman. But of course that’s not true. I love my FREEDOM/DEMOCRACY/FOOTBALL/BLACK PRESIDENT as much as anyone.
I just had the good fortune to learn the truth about our past from some stellar teachers in High School and College. And it is far easier to pretend our wealth was not built up on stolen land, resource annihilation, and free slave labor.
I think that’s the main reason Americans are so ahistorical. It’s not that we’re stupider than the rest of the world. Just that we function better as a forward-looking society. (Land ho.)
That’s why so many artists love to mine history. To spend days in dusty archives, combing through crusty books to find out who said what to whom. We love us some primary sources. (Wait. You mean George Washington wasn’t really named George Washington Blaustein, as my young son suggested this week? Quelle Surprise.)
The other method is to get out on the road and see what things look like now. Is there really a Plymouth rock? And why did they name it after Plymouth, from whence those grouchy Puritans came?
I can answer in the affirmative, that such a piece of stone exists, having just seen it in Colombian artist Oscar Palacio’s new book, “American Places.” (Published by the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.)
The book is fascinating, in that it mashes up the historically important with the constructedly banal. What could be more American than that?
Gettysburg battlefields, Underground railroad sites, the Lower 9th Ward, Manzanar, the Wounded Knee Memorial, and chopped trees protruding through fences. Concrete covered with grass. White banisters, defenestrated, rotting in the dirt.
The book is quiet the way a library is quiet. It helps to focus the mind. BTW, you know I’m going to respect anyone who goes to Mt. Rushmore and comes back with a photo that blocks the money shot. That takes guts.
Perhaps it’s easier for an outsider to admit that our society is built upon shaky foundations, like the Sunset district in San Francisco. (Sand dunes sit beneath the sleepy beach community.)
I love this country. We’ve given the world airplanes, cars, and the Internet. But also nuclear bombs, NSA spy software, and a legacy of misery that is felt in Native American and African-American communities to this day.
This book manages to blend the poignantly beautiful and the boringly sublime. Which are both stand-ins for the the glory and gore we’ve managed to produce since the Pilgrims landed more than 400 years ago.
Long may we prosper.
Bottom Line: Surprising, quiet, classy book that reminds us of a history we’d rather forget
Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.
Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.
[by Pascal Depuhl]
A few weeks ago, we talked about finding an audience. The real challenge is to take those casual relationships and build them into a network that is strong, solid, sound and sympathetic. How do you get from a lukewarm like to a raving endorsement?
Wanna know the secret of building such a network?
Make it about others. Share other people’s stories. Promote other people’s projects. Volunteer for other people’s visions. Assist other people’s ambition. Tell other people “Thank You.”
I know it sounds counter intuitive, but trust me, not making your network about you will grow your network. Here are some examples of how my network has benefited from putting others first:
This list goes on and on. I bet you see that the actions on the left are relatively small, compared to the results on the right. Plus these results are exponential and ongoing, as long as you keep caring for the others in your network:
In the end it’s not about how many followers you have on Twitter, how many business cards are in your Rolodex, how many hands you’ve shaken at networking events, workshops and other gatherings… it’s about the relationships behind those numbers. I’d rather have a dozen enthusiastic people in my network, who are real and strong relationships, than ten thousand likes on Facebook, that don’t care about me or my work.
Pascal Depuhl loves to build his network, by putting others first. Contact him on twitter @photosbydepuhl and ask him to help you to promote your passion, to assist you in acquiring your aspiration, to share your story. You’d be surprised what can happen …
Want to learn more? Check out Pascal’s blog this all week, he’s sharing 5 secrets of building your network.