Today at the bus stop I met a man from China. He is studying biomedical engineering at FSU and has been doing his Master’s/PhD program for the past 4-5 years.
The conversation started by me asking him what he was studying. He did the normal thing and then asked what I was studying. He also asked what I wanted to do in my life. I gave a semi-vague response that I give to most people when they ask, “I want to teach photography to high-school students.” But, what was so beautiful about this moment is that he could have done the normal thing and said “well that’s interesting” and changed the subject, but he didn’t. Instead, he asked why.
This question was so beautiful because I think our motives behind doing things tell so much about who we are or at least who we hope to be. See, about eight times out of ten I don’t tell people right away that I want to teach in a low-income area and not just photography but visual storytelling. I feel like we devalue these people by throwing them into categories and putting them in an imaginary box dooming them to a meaningless life. These people have stories. They see stories, they live stories. Stories that deserve to be heard. Stories that are beautiful and full of lessons just the same as a person born into different circumstances. These people deserve to know that they are worth something and that they can be someone and can live a life of purpose and can help make a mark on this world for the better. They shouldn’t have to settle for a life where the goal is to be wealthy and have an attractive spouse. They need to know that just because photography and videography is expensive doesn’t mean that they should cross that off of the list of possibilities. I want to show them that in the midst of a dark world, we can see light in moments, in people, in everything. Not only can we learn to see this light but we can learn to capture it in a way that expresses it to other people.
It may seem dumb that I got so excited about someone asking me why I want to teach. But really, think about why you are passionate. Ask others why they’re passionate. When you get people talk about their passion, life immediately seems more beautiful and more full of hope.