Author Stephen King tells a great story about a chance to meet his idol, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. The teenaged King hitchhiked to a college in Maine and talked his way into a reception honoring Asimov. Summoning his courage, he walked up to the legendary author and introduced himself.
â€œMr. Asimov, youâ€™ve always been a hero of mine and Iâ€™ve always wanted to write,â€ King said.
Asimov looked at the young man with disdain.
â€œBullshit kid,â€ he said. â€œIf you really wanted to write youâ€™d be home writing and not here bothering me.â€ Then he walked away, leaving the star struck teenager devastated.
King went home, got over the hurt and started writing, becoming one of the countryâ€™s most prolific and successful authors. Asimovâ€™s rudeness, he would later say, â€œwas just the kick the ass I needed.â€
I think about the King story whenever I run across someone who frets over what to do with his or her life. A lot of second-guessers out there. Too much timidity. Too much indecision on â€œshould I or shouldnâ€™t Iâ€ take a specific step, make a career change, or finally do something that theyâ€™ve claimed theyâ€™ve always wanted to do.
People wander into my studio every week and talk about how â€œtheyâ€™ve always wanted to be a photographer.â€ When I asked about the last time they picked up a camera, they will either claim it has been a while or say something like â€œwell, I donâ€™t have nice equipment like you so I canâ€™t take good pictures.â€
Thatâ€™s a crock. The only tool a real photographer needs is his or her eyes and a willingness to look for good pictures and shoot them. Seventy-seven of the Pulitzer Prizes awarded for photography over the years have gone to people who used equipment that the photo magazines call â€œamateurâ€ or â€œprosumerâ€ gear.
A woman with a young boy approached Alfred Eisenstaedt while the famous Life photographer shot an assignment in Times Square.
â€œMr. Eisenstaedt,â€ she asked, â€œif I buy my son a camera like yours can he take wonderful photographs like you?â€
Eisenstaedt didnâ€™t even look up from his viewfinder as he replied: â€œIf you buy him a Steinway can he play like Van Cliburn?â€
Wannabe photographers use lack of equipment as an excuse. Excuses come into play often for those who talk about what they â€œalways wanted to doâ€ but always find some reason not to do it.
â€œGod I envy you,â€ an email said the other day. â€œI wish I had the guts to bag everything and move to the country.â€
My response? â€œDonâ€™t talk about it. Donâ€™t think about it. Donâ€™t dwell on whether or not you should do it. Just do it.â€
The same goes for any lifestyle decision. Donâ€™t waste everyoneâ€™s time fretting over whether or not to do it. Lifeâ€™s too short for hesitation. Those who spend their time analyzing and â€œconsidering their optionsâ€ will always find an excuse for not doing what they claim they always wanted to do.
Just do it.