The Dash Journey

"The key to success is to work hard, love what you do, and be nice to others"  David W. Rewick

In the past three years my sister, mother, father and two of my dearest friends, Ellen and Sue,  passed away.  Not a day goes by that at least one of those five people crosses my mind.  Each of them played a pivotal role in my life and they each in turn are the reason that I found my way back to my passion: photography.  

This is Dash…a two-year old goofy, gawky, goony, golden retriever.  Her name is derived from a poem by Linda Ellis called The Dash.  The premise of the poem is this:  When we die, on our gravestone will be etched the year we were born, the year we died, both connected by a dash.  The two dates are really insignificant and the part that really matters is the dash between them.  What did we do with our "dash"?

Did we race through our time always looking for the next best thing?  Did we regret our past and live in the future?  Were we kind to all beings? Did we work at something we loved?  Was there peace and compassion in our heart?  Did we take notice of the everyday and live in gratitude?

I like to think of my "dash" in these terms as Thich Nhat Hanh so eloquently says: "When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens and we can be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love."  Simple and sage advice.

Yet, at times it is easier to love others than it is to accept and nurture ourselves.  If we planted a garden and the lettuce did not grow, we would not blame the lettuce.  We would see if the lettuce needed water or fertilizer or sunshine.  When we are not thriving we often blame ourselves instead of looking how we can enrich our own soil to foster growth.  Tend your "dash" with love and compassion and watch it grow and bloom.

Too often we photographers are hyper critical of our work and compare ourselves to others.  "I'm not as talented as they are. My work has no value.  I'm a failure"  Don't blame yourself or your photography.  Water and fertilize your craft by seeking pure joy in the moment.  Looking through the lens is a gift.  A moment between you and the subject that no one else will ever have.  Savor the experience for its intimacy and connection.  

After all, this is your "dash".  Yours and yours alone.  Go for it with gusto, just as goofy, gawky Dash does now.