I learned something recently, which is great because I love to learn all the things. I am very curious. I love a layover in an airport, because where are all these people going? Why are they dressed like that? Are they going to a wedding? Are they happy about it? Is it already one step away from divorce? Is that book good? Should I read it? I like to investigate. I should probably get a license and hang a shingle, but then people would ask me to tail their significant other and figure out about the cheating, and, well, no thanks.
So last week I combined some different kinds of questions and sort of suddenly my whole outlook shifted. In that way that it does when something slowly, with persistence, dawns on you. When you realize that now you won’t look at things the way you did before.
I had this idea to write profile pieces on some Pearls I know. Because they are out there, being inspiring without even realizing it. And I want all of you to know who they are, see how they’re doing it, how they’re considering their lives and what direction to take, how they are just STARTING without a clear picture of the way things are going to end. I always find the starting of something to be the hardest part. I don’t like to set off down a road without being sure where I’m headed. But here’s the thing: we cannot possibly ever know where we’re headed, especially when we are following something so tenuous as an idea. It’s nothing more than self-defeating to insist on figuring out the end before you even begin. It is boring and pointless. We can never know.
When I had the idea to do the profiles, I thought of my wonderful photographer friend, Liz Nemeth. I thought it might matter to have real portraits of these Pearls to go with the text explaining their story. I stewed over it, and finally told her only that I had an idea. I was nervous to tell her about it because it’s one thing to waste your own time on your own ideas but quite another to bring in someone else, and because what if she said no? Or yes? But I just asked anyway. It turns out she felt like it was a good idea, too, and I thought, “Wonderful, we might actually do this!” And then as I was leaving her studio she said, “I’m free on 11/22 and 11/23 to do photo shoots, does that work?” And I was like, “Wait…what? We are doing this??” And she said yes again.
I suspect Liz and people like her have ideas all the time, and it is no big deal to her to show them to people. I also have ideas all the time but never actually do anything public with them. Because then they would be public and that is when they might fail spectacularly. But because I asked, Liz said yes. And then we went and DID it. So that question I asked – “will you help me?” – turned tangible and suddenly my idea was happening. It made me feel awesome. Because somebody who I respect liked my idea and helped me by sharing her time and talent. Amazing.
Still riding the success of my earlier question-asking, I asked my friend if we could interview and photograph her on a Sunday afternoon. Another yes. And then Liz’s friend said yes, too, and I got to interview this amazing stranger I didn’t know before. Now I think we might be friends. Because I asked. And all three of these incredible women said yes.
So the thing I learned that now I’ll never be able or want to unlearn is that sometimes you just have to ask your questions without knowing exactly what the answers will mean. Share your ideas and ASK. Do you want to? Can I? Will you? Yes.