life

Recalculating route


I tend to write late posts. It’s something I’ve been trying to change, but I seem to work better at night. To be honest, when you see an early post (or maybe a lunchtime one), chances are I wrote it late at night and then scheduled it to go out at a certain time.

Tonight, I wanted to write much earlier, but I was slightly sidetracked (Sons Of Anarchy finale, that couldn’t wait, expect a post about SOA soon) and here I am again. On my calendar, today is empty, because I had no topic planned at all. Days like today are the tricky ones, the ones I struggle to find a topic and I end up writing at midnight.

For some reason, however, I’ve been coming back a sentence someone used to say.

It’s better to say sorry than to ask for permission.

Some sources say this quote is from a US Naval officer called Grace Hopper, other that it’s a proverb. The person I used to hear this from was one of my photography teachers, back in Spain (the quote would also be said in Spanish, of course!).

He used to say as photographers, we should always take the photo first and apologise after; that in the time we took to ask permission, and risking being denied the photo, the moment, the scene we were trying to capture, would be lost.

I am a bad photographer, I will admit that. For one reason, I never just take the photo, I always feel too shy, or too self-conscious. I never have to ask for forgiveness, because I rarely risk anything.

Maybe you like the photos I take, or maybe not, but the truth is I’m not a skilled photographer. I know the basics, and I know how to achieve great photos, but I never manage to get a great photo myself. Those who can’t, teach, they say.

Thinking about that teacher (another confession here, I used to have a massive crush on him), I remembered something else…

When I finished studying photography, I was contacted once to assist one of the teachers back at my high school. Assistant teacher, maybe? (Assistant to the teacher?) At the time, I think I considered it for about two seconds. I wouldn’t have minded, only my self-confidence was close to non existent, and I was only one or two years older than the people I would have to teach (or assist teaching), so I thought it was probably not a good idea for my own mental sanity.

That, got me thinking about how different decisions take us through different paths in life, and how different our lives could have been if instead of choosing A we had chosen B, or C.

In the novel I’ve been writing for the past four years (on and off, actual writing time might be closer to five months), there’s a scene in which I used a navigation system (like the ones in cars) as an analogy. We all have a destination, and we all know where were going in the end (the very end, I mean), we just take different routes to get there. At every crossroads or roundabout we arrive, we have the option to follow the route planned for us, or take a different exit. The route will be recalculated to always take us to the same destination.

Life is a navigation system.

When I was preparing for my university exams, I discovered I could actually have friends and go out and have fun. Before then, I was part of a very small group of friends (we were three), I was very shy, I was bullied, you know, the whole lot. One day, I met a group of people that were fun and nice and we had fun, so I spent more time with them. I grew closer to someone who became one of my best friends today (and even if we don’t talk often now, I still consider her a best friend). Unfortunately, my other two friends back then didn’t want to join and expand our circle. I had grown out of our little group. We kept contact for a while, but then we drifted apart.

It was a great time for me, even though it meant I didn’t study as much as I should have and my grades were affected, so I couldn’t get into the degree I wanted to.

I went to university and studied English literature. I hate studying literature so I hated every minute there. I was a bit miserable about it, but I met people, started dating a guy, and did my best to have fun (ah, I still remember Fridays at the biology building, drinking from noon – don’t tell my parents, ha-ha!).

One year of that, and I had enough. I managed to find a school that had a professional qualification on image (video and photography), which was more in line to what I really had wanted to do (audiovisuals). For two years, I learnt how to use a camera, how to set lighting in a studio, work with models, photograph products, retouching, video editing… It was great.

At the end of my studies, I got the offer, which I refused.

I decided to study advertising, and so I went to a business school, where I met new people (another of my current best friends, I met her there) and had a lot of fun, while studying my degree. There, I was offered the chance to come to the UK to study one year, and get an English degree, which I thought was an amazing idea. I came, met who ended up being one of my best friends ever (like a sister!), and we decided to move in together and work in London. You sort of know the rest.

Many times I think about the specific moments in my life when I chose one option over another, moments that have led me to where I am now (writing from my bed tonight, by the way!). If I had accepted the offer to stay at that high school, teaching photography, I wouldn’t be here.

Life really is a mystery, and you never know what might lie ahead. I used to say that it always takes me double the time to get where I want to, that some people take the fast route and get everything they want, and I am used to take the scenic route, that goes up and down, and turns and twists, and takes forever. I guess it’s alright. Many times, it gets frustrating, especially when you work hard to get something; however, it’s also very rewarding when you look back and realise how far you’ve become and know that everything you have is because you’ve worked for it.

As an anecdote, I did study marketing. For a bit, I wanted to work in marketing, although I’ve always been more inclined to the creative side of things (I didn’t particularly enjoy the planning and all that). When I joined the company I currently work for, I thought the sales role would be a short stint until I could land a job in marketing, here or somewhere else. When I transferred to internal communications, I was told not to expect to move into marketing after that, because there might not be a role for me there anyway. Fast-forward to now, and I’m working in marketing. Once again, I did it the long way.

Deep at the back of my mind, I keep going back to photography. They say if you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind goes when it wanders. My mind wanders to two different places at the moment (three really). One, is a matter of the heart that I’m not going to discuss here. The other two are writing (novel and blog), and photography. I can daydream for hours about any of these two. I hope I was just more disciplined to keep training regularly, and keep improving.

Soon, I’m going to post about my plans for 2015, as it’s customary around these dates. Once I do, I will ask for all of you to hold me accountable and make me get to where I need to be. I trust you will make sure I stick to my plans!

In the meantime, where has life taken you? Are there any key moments you remember where you chose a path that led you where you are now? Where would you be if you have chosen otherwise?

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