During a shoot recently with a new friend, she told me that she felt she’d manifested the entire thing: finding a photographer that she got along with, making new pictures, collaborating with another artist to create something. My therapist has been trying to get me into the practice of making daily intentions. I find it difficult, as I find most goal-oriented tasks to be difficult if they’re too vague. Concrete, footholds, trail markers, yellow paint, flashing icons, guidelines: all attainable. For all my love of nuance and flexibility and the gray, the third choice, I really do struggle with openness of my own life. My father used to ask me what my plan was for one year down the road, five years, then ten. I could barely consider the next week.

I’m not where I want to be. I’m not fully sure where that even is. And yet, I am where I am. So, is this where I’m supposed to be? Stafford Beer once said that “the purpose of a system is what it does (POSIWID).” When did I orient myself towards this life, behind the camera instead of in front of it? For all my dissatisfaction, why haven’t I put myself back in front of it? Beer might say that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing, simply because I continue to do it. In the Matrix Reloaded, Morpheus says “what happened, happened, and couldn’t have happened any other way…because we are still alive.” Real life is heuristic, aspirational, simple and mysterious.

I don’t believe in magic, or ghosts, or tarot, or horoscopes (I don’t practice Santeria, I ain’t got no crystal ball). The Alchemist isn’t on my top ten books (or top 100 for that matter) and I don’t sing the praises of The Secret. But there is something to be said for keeping an idea at the forefront of your mind. I grew up reading anything I could get my hands on. We had copies of The Great Brain stories around the house. One of the anecdotes I always remember was how, when the protagonist Tom, the eponymous great brain himself, wanted to come up to a solution to a difficult problem, he thought of it intensely in the moments before he fell asleep. While he slept, his subconscious would come up with the solution. I have doubts on this technique’s efficacy (though some intellectuals swear by it), but the brain is a mysteriously efficient organ. If one orients their thoughts towards an idea consistently, then like a compass one is pulled toward the idea’s realization. I hope I like where I’m headed.

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