"I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."
— Stephen Hawking, From Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays
Without much doubt, we packed our house and moved to Charleston. I remember pulling the moving truck out of the driveway. What did we just do? I looked in my rearview mirror and saw my best friend behind me. He just helped pack us up. It was emotional. It was hard. But I never took my foot off the gas.
Once again, it’s about fear. The fear of leaving behind what you know to do something you’re not sure will work out in the end. If I kept looking at the fears of what’s ahead, or holding onto my fears of the past, I wouldn’t have been able to move forward. I had kept one book from when I went to college, probably one of the few I read in college, and I occasionally take it out. “Insight Meditation,” The Practice of Freedom by Joseph Goldstein. There’s a story in it that stood out to me, and I’ve thought about it many times.
“Imagine holding onto a burning hot coal. You would not fear letting go of it. In fact, once you noticed you were holding on, you would probably drop it quickly. But we often do not recognize how we hold onto suffering. It seems to hold onto us.”
Think about this. Someone tosses you a hot coal, and you drop that coal quickly. The pain subsides quicker. The healing process begins and ends faster. Now, when you are handed another hot coal in life you know what you have to do because of experience. But if you hold onto that hot coal and don't let go there becomes more pain, more suffering, and the longer you hold on the longer it takes to heal. Add more hot coals and you just won’t be able to handle them. A what point are the burns are permanent?
Know what your hot coals are. It could be infant portraits, handling your accounting, an unreasonable client, editing photos, or white shirt and khaki family portraits on the beach. Don’t fear doing it every time it comes up. Let go what causes you pain and suffering. Free yourself. Follow your passion. Find your calling. Be happy with what you do. Follow the path that unfolds in front of you, but don’t forget to steer.
Believe me, it wasn’t easy to follow my heart and make changes to my business, never mind move 800+ miles to a city where we didn’t know anyone. There are differences between knowing what you want to do, what others are asking you to do, and knowing what you should be doing. I’ve known what I should be doing for a couple of years now, and it hasn’t been what people are asking me to do. If you’re not happy with any aspect of your business, ask yourself: what’s the purpose of doing it?
Don’t take your foot off the gas because of fear. Drop the hot coals before they burn you permanently.