Why We Do What We Do

So I have opened a studio in Lethbridge doing studio stuff and taking pictures of people again.  Wow!  That’s exciting isn’t it?  The question is, though, why do people keep asking me what I’m doing that for?  Why aren’t you retired or something?  The answer is simple, I don’t want to retire and more importantly I would get really hungry after awhile if I didn’t do something to augment my income.  I’m having fun and that is the best part of it and it gives me purpose.

Do you know what purpose is? Purpose is something you need in order to face every day with vigour and an interest in something other than watching countless hours of old movies over and over again and pausing every hour or so to take care of the bladder being full.  Purpose is a commodity that there is still plenty of if you look for things to keep you busy and out of the coffee shops and malls talking about the weather and who died this week.  Purpose is the thing that keeps you living and enjoying life and keeps your mind off the fact that so many seniors like me have just given up and are waiting to join the ones that have passed on.  Screw that noise.  I’ve had purpose all my life, but never more so than I have it today.

Being a senior citizen in Canada can be hard because there are so many things to attend to every day to keep you ahead of the game.  Endless doctor visits for both yourself and your spouse.  Endless people trying to help you relax more by always “being there” and you have to be so pleasant with them because they are “only trying to help”.  I value my privacy above all things and that is often encroached upon by the countless do gooders out there.  I don’t like being forced into retirement and all that that conjures up in my mind.  I like my independence and the ability to make up my own mind and not have others make it up for me.  So move on to other things ok?  There is too much to do and play with and enjoy than to allow someone else to take your life into their hands.  Who makes them qualified to make those decisions for you anyway?

Sit down with a senior sometime and ask them questions about their lives and what they want to do in the future and you will be surprised by the answers you get.  All of a sudden they get a gleam in their eye as they start creating new ideas on the fly.  Ask them about their successes and their children and their hobbies and their pets and you will be surprised at the huge amount of knowledge they have gathered over the years.  Ask them about what and whom they love and who they admire and why.  Listen to them and show them that their comments are important and that because of that their lives are too.

The most important thing to do every day is to laugh.  You can find something to laugh about almost everywhere you look.  I often just walk down the street and watch people as they are coming towards you and smile at them and they all of a sudden are jerked out of their stupor and smile sweetly back.  If I see someone smiling while she or he looks at me I will tell them they have a beautiful smile and I’d love to photograph it some day.  It brightens their day every time.  Try to make someones day every day in some small way whether it is a clerk in a store or a person on the street.  Make someone smile or even laugh and it helps them along the way to the next task at hand.

Don’t ever be afraid to make a spectacle of yourself and laugh at you more than you do at others.  My job is to make people laugh and smile and I love doing it.  The whole job of a portrait photographer is to encourage your clients to forget the camera is there and be natural and have fun working with me.  I’m glad it’s my job because I really like doing that.

There is only one time that I can remember that someone wouldn’t succumb to my silliness and smile and he was a young teenager who had a teenage boy’s attitude.  It isn’t cool to smile and he simply wasn’t going to do it come hell or high water.  I finally told him confidentially that his mother is paying me a lot of money take his pictures and that if he doesn’t crack a smile, she will not be amused and will probably ground him for life.  He found that funny and cracked a smile.  I’m really fast on the shutter. Got’m.

So take life seriously if you like as it is a serious business, but remember that there is only one twist around this old planet so you better make every minute count.  There is no other direction you are going in than down so live life to the fullest now and make it as much fun as you can.  Not only will you live longer,  but you will enjoy it more and move more people to enjoy it too.

Thanks for your time. – Tom


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