Are you stuck in the mud, trapped in a box, riding a rut, numbed by routine? Do you feel heavy, legs won't move, ideas won't come? Do you think so little of yourself that can't take a leap? Is your head so high in the clouds that you don't even realize you may have squashed something important? Take a look down at your feet, figuratively speaking, and check out what you put on this morning.
You may be wearing CEMENT SHOES. The one-way kind that pull you down down down.
They come in all styles and sizes and descriptions:
* He/she is better than me.
* All my photos look the same.
* I'm great at landscapes but photographing people scares the poop out of me.
* I'm not smart enough for this.
* My photos will never get a ribbon.
* I don't need to learn technique, color theory, or artful composition because I am an intuitive photographer.
* I'm afraid of ____________.
* I'd better not say anything because they'll think I'm stupid.
* I shouldn't have come here.
* It's already been done a million times so why bother?
* My family says I'm freaking amazing. How come my photos never get any likes?
* I don't want to attract attention.
* Why am I standing here yet again at the edge of this canyon, shooting the same scene with 80 other photographers?
Sound familiar? The CEMENT SHOE list is endless, and we all have one. Call them excuses, failings, insecurities, shortcomings, fears - the thesaurus is filled with negatively charged word forms that attach to our minds like leeches and are as tough to shake off. What's worse, even the positive cliches, sayings, memes, and self-help posters don't help either - in fact they are often a doubly negative reinforcing set of CEMENT SHOES themselves, albeit wrapped in prettier, cheap paper. While they may fit someone else, like the creator making money off them, they chafe on us. So for this assignment, we're going to open our closets, yank out CEMENT SHOES of all kinds, and haul them off to the dump. They're not even worth recycling.
We'll go barefoot for this assignment - shoeless - so you can feel the mud between your toes. Real earth, building authentic calluses. Later, when it comes time to replenish your closet with quality footwear, it will be with models you've carefully handcrafted yourself. You'll end up with only a few pair - sturdy shoes for technical work, fancy shoes for creative dancing, runners for long range goals, and a pair of size 22 self-inflating clown shoes to keep it real.
It's easy to collect CEMENT SHOES and to fill our mental closets to bursting with them. What we don't buy on our own, we accept from others out of politeness or worse. Peer pressure, social expectations, envy, greed, and fear are all excellent sources of CEMENT SHOES. But all of them are useless, dead weight.
So how do we get rid of our CEMENT SHOES ? One at a time, with a hammer and chisel, doing the work of chipping off the clunky bits until at last they split apart and fall away. Hello feet! Let's dance.
Whatever you do, don't put the broken bits back on your feet or in the closet. They have a nasty tendency to come back together while we sleep. For now, stay barefoot and run free.
This assignment is easy. Here's how to step out of your CEMENT SHOES :
* Make a list of your personal cement shoes - maybe use the above list as a starting point. Don't think; just start writing them down. Once your pen starts to move, the hardest part is knowing when to stop.
* Pick ONE item from your list, for example "I'll do it later." Defeat it by attacking it NOW. "It's too hard." Break the impossible task into small steps and do the first step NOW. "I don't want to attract attention." Attract attention NOW - on purpose - and be prepared for a positive response.
* For every item you pick from your list, do the opposite. You want liberation? This is the key.
* Believe. Repeat. Do the work.
CEMENT SHOES will run for two weeks, from September 7 through September 20. Happy shooting!