I changed my Facebook profile picture the other day. I think I've been on Facebook a couple years now and I've been blogging about a year after that. It is the only time I have ever changed my picture, and quite likely I will never change it again. I'm impressed and amazed by the frequency that most people change their profiles, but I just don't have the energy. For that, anyway.
Here's my new photo, which my wife took of me two years ago:
While this might look like a casual snap of me staring off into space or taking a snooze, it was actually a very staged photo, one that was a celebration of sorts for my wife and I. It was meant to look like this:
That's Don Was,a musician and music producer.It is an advertisement for a brand of speakers. One of the tag lines, which you probably can't see, is "Was at Work". I ran across this advertisement in a magazine when I was out of college working various dead-end jobs, and sort of became a little obsessed with it. I'd long known by this time that I wanted to be a novelist, you see, and that advertisement (shallow of me, maybe) helped me conceptualize what my vision for my life would be. I told my future wife Kim that the advertisement spoke to me in such a way, and I was fortunate that she bought into that vision, going as far to write the company to see if she could get me a poster of the advertisement. The company did not have any posters, but they were kind enough to send a color photocopy of the advertisement on heavy card stock.
Now, don't get the wrong idea when you look at these photos. My personal vision for my life was not to just sit around in a tropical paradise, napping whenever I chose. What kind of fool would want that for a life? I was going to work countless hours every week pursuing that as a goal?
Well, not exactly. I still work seventy hours a week. When I'm writing, I like working seventy hours a week. I'd work more if I could. But sometimes that work requires that I stare off into space; as the writer Jack Ketchum said, and I often quote, "Sometimes staring at the wall is writing!"
My vision was to make writing my work, and from that work, achieve certain forms of autonomy. The autonomy to work where I wanted. When I wanted. With a dress code that included bare feet if I so chose. But most importantly; the vision was to create and to bring something forward that others could experience and possibly enjoy and find interesting. The kicker of the advertisement was that Don Was had just won a Grammy. Despite appearances, this was not a lazy man. At least, that was how I chose to read it.
I should mention that I carried the advertisement with me for over a decade before my wife took the similar photo of me. That's a lot of seventy hour work weeks in between, but that was how many it took for me to feel like I'd achieved at least enough of my vision to not feel like I was lying to myself by replicating the photo.
Inspiration and motivation are where you find them. I've had the photo nearby my desk ever since I first saw it, and I'll take it out every so often, when things are going good, when they are going bad, when I need to be reminded just why it is I do the things that I do. And now every time I log into Facebook, I'll be reminded of what it feels like to fulfil, even momentarily, one's vision.
And then, once it is fulfilled, create a new vision...
My next vision for myself will include having hair like Mr. Was's in this photo...