My brother, Dan Auber, is a photographer. His career has taken him all over the world. He has explored and photographed the natural world on land and in the sea. His work has been published in some of the finest nature and underwater magazines. He has met world-famous scientists and innovators. Articles have been written about him. He’s shared his knowledge with others through classes and seminars. For him, every day is another adventure.
Dreams aren’t free. There is always a cost.
It’s not uncommon that someone will approach Dan, and with admiration and more than a touch of envy in their voice, comment on what a wonderful life he has. “Yeah,” he’ll reply with a smile. “Just livin’ the dream.” And then he’ll begin to load onto his back the bulky, heavy equipment he must carry around with him as he heads off to his next photo opportunity.
That envious person doesn’t see the price Dan pays every day for living his dream. Not just schlepping the heavy equipment, but also the long days he spends on the road crisscrossing the country from photo gig to photo gig. Then there’s the mind numbing hours he spends perfectly still while he waits for just the right set of circumstances to occur to make up the perfect shot. And we mustn’t forget the constant study to learn new techniques and new technologies and the inevitable failures and disappointments along the way. All are necessary to arrive at that one perfect moment, for that one perfect opportunity to get that one perfect shot. And when it all comes together, and he’s truly living the dream there in that perfect moment, then...CLICK…and it’s time to pack up all the equipment and move on.
When my brother says he’s “living the dream,” he’s speaking both quite sincerely and somewhat sarcastically at the same time. He is living his dream. He’s doing what he was meant to do and what he’s good at. He’s had a life full of adventure, travel, and beauty. He’s gotten to work with some of the most creative minds on the planet. He’s learned something new everywhere he goes. But he chuckles to himself at the people he meets who think that he has it made, and his life is nothing but fun and adventure. He’s willing to pay for living his dream because he loves what he does more than he dislikes what it costs him.
Our dreams aren’t a destination. They’re a highway.
My brother knows this as well. After several decades of being a still photographer, he has branched out into video photography. He has commercials and promotional videos in his portfolio now, and is fired up about the possibility of doing a documentary. This is a whole new direction for a man in his sixties, at a time when some might choose to coast a little and savor past successes. Perhaps he realizes that the dream ends when the journey ends. Perhaps he’s just too busy having fun to even give it much thought. I hope so!
I found this quote on one of my favorite sites for inspiration, tinybuddha.com: “…perhaps it would serve us well to continually remind ourselves that today doesn’t have to pale in comparison to our potential tomorrow.”
Our dreams must be dynamic, and change with us as we change.
In Dan’s case, he is realizing that the intense physical aspects of his work are quickly to becoming more difficult for him, and he’s looking into the possibilities created by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV, aka drone) technology for photographers. This technology promises to take the art of photography in a whole new direction, with applications scientific, commercial and artistic. (No, folks, drones aren’t just for spying on other countries!) Dan will not be looking back in regret at what he can no longer do, but looking forward to new challenges that will suit his physical needs, while allowing him to continue to photograph his world on his own terms, just as he has always done.
I’ve watched my brother’s career go from underwater photography to topside nature and commercial photography, to videography, and now moving into possibly filmmaking or drone photography. He’s always looking for what will capture his imagination next. He’s such an inspiration to me, and I’m proud to have such a brother!
We must have dreams, no matter what our age or circumstances. They are the stuff that makes it worth getting up in the morning. We must be willing to pay the price to achieve them. And we must know when it’s time to put old dreams away to make room for new ones. Dream on, dear reader, dream on!