I wrote the following letter for my daughter after a chance discovery of some old photographs from my long neglected hobby. I wanted to talk to her about the importance of indulging our passions.
I believe a part of who we are as individuals is driven by the things we are passionate about. By passions here, I’m referring to our hobbies or time we spend do things simply because we love them. It not only determines what we spend our free time doing (or try to spend time doing) but also influences how we experience the world around us.
Making sure you find time to enjoy your passions as you get older can sometimes seem frivolous or self indulgent which means they can often be sidelined in favour of more ‘practical’ endeavours, ones that seem to have a point to them.
One of my great passions is photography. From the moment I picked up my Father’s camera, taking photographs has always been something of an outlet for me. I’ve never properly studied it and I still don’t understand how I’ve achieved half the shots I’ve captured, but this collection of happy accidents, some of them framed and hanging on the walls of our home well, they make me happy. Quite proud maybe too.
When I became your mum, you became my passion and will always be, the greatest love of my life. My priorities changed when you came along and so whenever I picked up a camera the purpose was to capture your chubby ankles, your long eyelashes or your soft blonde curls on the nape of your neck. To take a picture of you pulling a new face or achieving a new milestone. Shots of your face evolving from a milk-drunk sleepy newborn to a sassy, comedic three year old.
Whilst looking for some other photographs this week I came across a stash of my old ‘hobby’ photography. From the days where I would head out in an unfamiliar city with my camera strapped to my body and spend hours taking candid shots. I felt something again looking at those pictures and realised I had been missing out on something I really loved doing. Something I was passionate about.
You mustn’t get me wrong, I don’t regret a single one of those pictures I took of you. They are pure gold to me and I’m grateful that we have them. But I realised how little I’ve done to capture all the other things that trigger something in me. How my pursuit of capturing light and dark, catching something interesting in the face of a stranger or the line and form of my surroundings, makes me feel a sense of contentment and peace.
I think the reason I’m writing this is just to remind you to look for a balance in your life as you move into the ‘grown up’ world. The one with, bills, mortgages and deadlines. The one where you think about your career development and whether or not your child has enough vitamins in their diet. It’s very easy to get tied up in doing all the necessary ‘life admin’ and forget the things you can do to simply enjoy your life more. Try to see carving a slice of your time to ‘indulge’ yourself with something that you’re passionate about as less of a luxury and more of a smart investment.
Without certain people ‘indulging’ or committing to their passions we would be without some of the greatest works of creativity and scientific and technological discovery. Wouldn’t the world be different without a young Walt Disney’s love for drawing or an eighth grade Bill Gates’ passion for programming early video games?
People who ‘indulge’ their passions can achieve monumentally great things. But, most importantly it may simply help you to achieve a true feeling of peace – fulfilment and contentment in your life.
And those things are definitely worth indulging in.
All my love