Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The List

I met a friend for a pre-flight snack at the Las Vegas airport yesterday afternoon. He called and asked if I had a few minutes to spare. I was just about to explain I was sitting in a bleak terminal, when an overhead announcement blared from the speakers and muted my voice. Where are you, he asked. I closed the book I was reading and told him the airport. I’m at the airport too, he laughed.

We met at Ruby’s Diner and talked about the past few days at the wedding and portraiture conference. We compared experiences and highlights. They were very different.

It was my first conference and I didn’t know what to expect. What I did know, however, was that I wanted to be sure I went to specific seminars. I made a mental check-list of by whom I wanted to be tutored. Kevin Kubota, David Beckstead, Gary Fong, Mike Colon, David Jay. The list was long. Little did I realize parties and get-togethers were as important—if not more—than the conference itself. Had I known this in advance, I would have made a place for it on the list. And if it were on the list, I would have scratched it out. At least five times over.

While others had the option of skipping out on the 8:30 a.m. sessions, I didn’t allow myself that luxury. I went to Las Vegas to learn—to soak up knowledge like a Brawny paper towel does to a puddle of KoolAid. I went to the morning sessions girded with a pen and notepad, ready to scribble down the steps I need to take to march toward my future goals. Looking at my notes later, the proverbial steps looked like learning to tango from a book. I was overwhelmed.

I walked the tradeshow floor in a daze. There must have been at least 15 printing companies, 12 album companies, 10 compact flash companies, eight lighting companies, five software companies, one print-your-picture-on-a-blanket company, and a partridge in a pear tree. I gathered as much information as my arms and head could carry, but I later realized I was building a mote instead of a bridge. For every phenomenal thing I learned in a seminar, I realized there were five other things I didn’t know on the tradeshow floor.

Instead of getting discouraged, I promised myself that I would set a series of things I wanted to accomplish before next year’s conference. Yes, I’m going to make another list. Perhaps I’ll post that list later this week. Perhaps I won’t. Either way, I’m looking forward to scratching off each itemized entry.
While at Ruby’s Diner, my friend looked across the table at me and I snapped out of my introspective blitz. He was saying that our first-conference experiences were very similar when I stopped him mid-sentence. Our experiences were nothing alike—except perhaps watching things from the outside in—because he didn’t walk away from his first conference the way I was feeling at that moment. He didn’t walk away from the conference feeling like he had to swim forty meters to the ocean surface to get a breath of air. No, I thought to myself, our experiences are nothing alike.

Then he said something profound. As if he read the blinking billboard in my mind. You have to make a list, he said in between bites of his bacon cheeseburger, so that you’ll know how far you’ve come. You don’t want to sit here next year at WPPI and realize you’ve been stagnant. If you’re at the same point next year, maybe you should reevaluate what you’re doing with your career. He then grabbed his drink and slurped down the velvety Coke.

And I slurped down his words, promising myself to make that list.


Blogger One Blank Canvas said...

Great idea Jaz!!! I need to make myself a list too... I've got sooo much going on in the next couple of months that I don't want to become stagnant either...

It was great meeting you, Shyla, Mike, Julie and I can't wait until I can see everyone again!

I'll be in LA in June if you'd like to get together!

--- Gregg

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Tracy said...

Oh, I hope you posted that list! I guess I will just have to keep reading to find out :)

8:36 AM  

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