Have you ever wondered what you would find if you went a little further, I decided to find out.
My wife and I walk every day, and have gotten to know our neighborhood pretty well over the last few years. One of our regular routes takes us up the Fernleigh Track, a beautiful shaded walk along an old rail line that the local council turned into a bicycle and pedestrian path. We live near one end of the 16km track but we have never walked past the first road crossing at the 4km mark, and I have always wondered what lay beyond the crossing. Today I found out by walking the entire Fernleigh Track from Adamstown (where I live) to Belmont to see what I had been missing all these years.
Go a little further every day.
Just a kilometre further along the track I spotted a billabong (small lake) through the trees. I wandered down to the edge, and marveled at how much we had missed by not going a little further on one of our walks. The water birds drifted across the shallow water and wadded through the aquatic plants looking for food. By going a little further I opened up a new area in my world, expanded my horizons and found that with a little extra effort you can find great rewards. Our every endevour in life can benefit by taking that extra step, every time you go a bit further you have the potential to reap rewards.
Saving a little extra every week can help you fund that overseas vacation or ride out a loss of income while going the extra mile for a customer will bring them back to your business in the future. I have never regretted going that little bit further in any endevour, it has always enriched my life and the lives of family to see what exists around the corner or over the next crest. We live in a world where many people think that doing the minimum, cutting costs and providing the cheapest product is all that matters to anyone. We think there is no need to go the extra mile because no one appreciates our efforts. Well if we do not care enough to make an extra effort then why expect someone else to care for us.
Go a little further for yourself, I am just as satisfied to know that I do a better than average job whether the recipients of my efforts recognise it or not. My reward for going a little further is to find that unforeseen treasure down the road, sometimes its a billabong next time it might be my next big break in life.
See beyond the horizon.
As I started to write this post I looked at a map of my journey and recognised many of my discoveries clearly marked on the topography. The billabong is right there, and the old train station at Redhead that I had not expected is also clearly marked. I had never taken time to look beyond the horizon, read a map or ask others what lay beyond my normal journey. Sound familiar? How often do you question your life to see if there are other possibilities? Not often enough for most people.
Twenty years ago I had one career plan, a sequence of jobs and training that would get me to Britain and my dream flying job. No options, no alternate plans because my plan had to end at my expected destination. Despite my preparation the job went to someone else, and my boss presented me with some new options that did not overjoy me. I made a choice and headed to Canberra where two months latter I found myself packing for Seattle and the eight best years of my life. I realised most of my dreams, living overseas again, promotion and eventually a great flying job testing the latest technology. This happened because I started to look beyond my own horizon, and analyse the possible futures for me and my family.
Although going a little further down the road can yield wonderful surprises, a little preparation can help you decide whether to stay the course or take an alternate route. Life is a journey and you have to survey the possibilities occasionally and be prepared to deviate from your planned route. I no longer focus on retirement, the end goal for many workers, instead I focus on what I want to achieve professionally and personally before I am cease to be.
So I keep my eyes open to opportunities, a business trip can be a chance to explore a new city or to catch up with friends or family. I have a great job at present but I know that a move into another role is coming within the next few years. By looking beyond the horizon, I know the best paths to find something that interests me if my current route is blocked.
Travel the known road or journey beyond the familiar.
Many people follow the known road, never deviating, never imagining that something better might exist a little further on or down an alternate route. It’s the safe option, no unknown threats or surprises, to let their lives play out down the familiar path. I had gotten into that mindset, safe, comfortable but also bored and dissatisfied with my life. Well no more, I am cracking on down the unknown road looking for adventure and excitement at work and at home. That does not mean I’m jumping out of aircraft or driving racing cars every week (although I plan to do both) but I am changing my approach to life.
At work I am initiating changes that I believe will improve our performance, and make our team happier in their daily work. Outside of work, I have reduced my television consumption and expanded my activities to fill those previously wasted hours. I have projects underway in travel, photography and motorcycling that have produced more results this year than I have had in years. I’m reading for enjoyment again, and I am determined to complete my biggest writing project this year despite a slow start. In the end it comes down to this:
I am Happy.
How about you, are you happy?
No, well then get off your butt and do something, walk an extra mile and see what lies beyond the familiar path.
patron of the arts
a person who supports with money, efforts, or endorsement an artist or artistic endevour.
Wealth is not required to be a patron of the arts.
Anyone with an interest in the arts is aware of the rich patrons who buy the expensive art objects, people like David Walsh who built the fantastic Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) to open his remarkable collection to the public. To many people they are the quintessential chardonnay sipping millionaires buying art to glorify their own names, and making the artists famous as a result.
During the Renaissance every artist sought a patron who would commission art for churches, public spaces and their homes. These commissions kept the money rolling in for the artist and his apprentices. Patronage not only provided an income, it brought the artist’s work to the attention of other patrons. For all his natural talent, Michelangelo’s stature owed much to his close association with the Medici family who commissioned his early work including his famous statue of David. Through Medici patronage, Michelangelo achieved the notoriety to win his Papal commissions like the Sistine Chapel ceiling. It took vast fortunes to commission these works, and artists strove to exemplify the status of their patrons through ever greater feats of artistic brilliance.
Today fame and fortune as an artist can be as simply as a photograph of their work posted on a Tumblr blog. It can propagate across hundreds of personal blogs, social media and art fan sites to take on a life of its own, going viral and reaching the attention of millions of people and launch an artist’s career.
Art Collecting Groups
Last year the Newcastle Regional Gallery hosted an exhibition comprised of the art collected by a local group called Hawkesbury One. This group set out to develop a collection of emerging Australian artists in the first decade of the new century. The collection is stunning, edgy, scary but most importantly helped establish many of Australia’s finest new artists. Along the way, the members developed their palate for visual arts, developing new tastes for video art, installation art and styles that confront us with their raw emotion.
In this essay for the Griffith Review, Steven Alward describes the joys and complications of collecting art as a group, the legal and social barriers that they overcame to produce this collection. As part of a group, they gained access to works that they could not afford as individuals for the bargain price of $2000 a year. This is a fantastic way to provide your patronage to the arts if you can find a group of people who share your passion and vision for a collection.
Four simple ideas to make you a patron of the arts.
Finally, here are four simple ideas that anyone can pursue to be a patron of the arts:
- Buy the work of young artists. Every artist needs to make their first sale, go to local art fairs and art school exhibitions and be amongst the first to buy the work of an young artist.
- Become a member at a major gallery. Membership of a major gallery in your region provides an avenue to meet like minded art lovers, and often provide a myriad of ways to improve your knowledge. Free guided tours, art lectures and an opportunity to contribute to their acquisition plans. Then share your knowledge with friends and family, tell them about the exciting new artist you met last week and encourage them to invest in art.
- Volunteer. Many galleries rely on volunteers, and it is a simple no cost way to give something to the artistic community. Many people provide a lifetime of service to the arts through volunteering, and often they are amongst the most knowledgeable people at your gallery.
- Become a life model. Okay, this is not for everyone but emerging artists need subjects for their art and cannot afford to pay professional models. It can be physically demanding work but imagine your image hanging in the great galleries of the world.
Learn to love art.
There is a scene in Iron Man where billionaire Tony Stark buys a painting because it is expensive therefore he must have it and sends it straight into storage. Obviously he loved the idea of owning expensive art more than the art itself, despite the millions he spent Tony Stark is no patron of the arts. He treats it as an investment with no desire to support the development of artistic endevour. If you truly wish to be a patron of the arts, learn to love it, be challenged by it and most importantly promote what you love and help other people to find great art.
I’m trying to create a sense of wonder so that visitors can allow themselves to have fun rather than trying to be smart.
David Walsh discussing his vision for MONA
Reading requires you to create a world in your mind from the text, and I believe this spur to your imagination prepares you to see a different future for yourself.
Your reading needs to be diverse, many people read every day but with such a narrow focus their minds are running on cruise control as their eyes flit across the page. Without a diversity of stories and views in your reading, the mind continually reinforces your current ideas. You stop questioning yourself and become unable to imagine a different future.
A Creative Mind
When I embarked on a Masters program in 1998, my library bulged with fiction, history and scientific theory that I read voraciously over my lifetime. During my studies, the university dictated an immense volume of texts to be read, and fiction disappeared from my reading lists as I strove to understand the complexities of political science, international relations and modern history. When I graduated, I continued to only read non-fiction and then slowly even those books started to sit forlornly on the shelf as my passion for reading waned. After a lifetime of reading, I gradually retreated into world devoid of books that I filled with games and television.
My mistake? I stopped reading for pleasure, the joy of exploring a new world in my mind had disappeared under facts, theories and academic doubletalk. Facts and theories are good academic pursuits but we are creative beings, to be fulfilled we need to make the leap from theory to a future state. Fiction helps develops your creative mind, and allows you to imagine different futures. Futures that you can pursue to make your life worth living for you.
Reading for Pleasure
I have embraced fiction again, and it features prominently in my reading list for 2012. I started with The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo so I could compare my vision with the Hollywood version released this week in Australia. As I watched the movie my mind ran its version in parallel, as if I had already seen the movie. Right now I am reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and the opening chapter catapulted straight out on to the open road, riding a motorcycle with my wife and friends. This is a vision that I lost sight of a decade ago, and now the simple words of Robert Pirsig are drawing back to the highway. By choosing to read books that give me pleasure I have found myself reading more than watching television-a black hole that much of my life has been sucked into-and my thoughts are turning to new futures, new possibilities. It may be hedonistic but enjoyment is the catalyst for developing an enduring habit, and I am very happy to be enjoying books again.
An Enriched Future
Every book I read is opening my mind to new ideas, new possibilities and new futures, I already feel that I have enriched my year by rediscovering my love of fiction. I plan to read philosophy, memoirs and maybe a little non-fiction throughout the year, and use those texts to adapt my projects and embrace the endless possibilities. Books enrich our ideas like independent travel frees us from the constraints of organised tourism. While coaches full of tourists are guided from one experience to another, the independent traveller (tourist) follows a similar but divergent path. They stay longer when it pleases them or take a different direction if it doesn’t. Readers have the same advantage, lingering over a passage or rereading a page to understand the plot or form an idea while moviegoers take a coach ride through the story, guided by the director’s vision. Both are enjoyable but film does not challenge you to imagine the future, you just watch it emerge and that is not a metaphor for the life I want to lead, an enriching life full of potential and wonder based on my ideas and ideals.
Reading a variety of genres enriches your mind, challenges your preconceptions and reveals new ideas for your exploration. So take the time to read, read every day and let your imagine run free with the words.
My second self-portrait for the year had to be shot in natural light after a failure in my lighting system. I have always subscribed the prior preparation to prevent poor performance logic but I left everything to the last minute on this occasion. This resulted in a change to the concept and lighting required but I am happy with the result. Shot at 1/40sec, f5.6, ISO 100 with my zoom at 21mm focal length.