I’ll often joke that I’m old, but I know it’s not actually true, I’m only 32. I mean, that’s barely even an adult, though sometimes my body feels older (ten years of carpentry left my knees and back in shitty condition), I still have plenty of time left on this earth for new experiences. There’s no reason to let age determine whether I give up on them.
Yesterday I shared a video with my brother and he responded that he wished he had done more creative work when we were kids. It’s kind of ironic coming from him because he was far more involved in the arts while I was always too busy with Boy Scouts, the cadet Fire and EMS program, and working a part-time job. If anything I was the one that missed out on the freedom youth provides us, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying new creative endeavors in adulthood.
When I picked up my first real camera—as opposed the cheap point and shoots I had used—I was 24. I was living in Phoenix and realized I needed to take advantage of my incredible amount of free time rather than spending it in a bar, so I signed up for black and white photo classes at the local community college. I was one of the oldest students in the class, something I laugh at now, but many of my classmates couldn’t even drink yet. I still consider that class to be a pivotal moment to my interest in creative work.
I was 26 when I started my path toward design and development. I had been messing around with the web since the late nineties, but never taken it seriously. I was working for a local remodeler and he had to lay us off that winter due to a shortage of work. It was the second time work had run dry and I realized that as much as I loved carpentry, it’s not a career with dependable income and benefits. It was then that I become serious about the web and it took three years of hard work to land my first real job in the industry.
I’m now 32 and that’s not stopping me from trying new creative work. I’ve always been interested in film, even when I first got into photography, but it was never accessible to me. I was a broke waiter barely affording my rolls of Ilford black and white and any camera that produced quality videos cost a ton of money. In the last eight years video has become much less expensive. For $100 you can buy a somewhat decent action camera and for a bit more than that, one that can film in 2.7k or 4k! Even the latest entry level SLRs and Mirror-less cameras have amazing video capabilities.
Despite all this, I still can’t help feeling like I’m late to the party, even if I know it’s not true. I mean, have you seen the quality of films being posted on Vimeo and YouTube or the crazy following these filmmakers have? What chance do I have of ever catching up? The truth is, I can’t.
I’ll never be able to put in the number of hours many of these film makers already have and by the time I do, they’ll have gained new experience. The line is constantly moving, but life isn’t about finish lines—despite what advertisers want us to think. Why should I allow someone else’s successes to define my path? Why allow their library of work to stop me from making my own? Their vision isn’t my vision, and my vision just might add something new to the world.
Age has nothing to do with success, only the will to push through when you’re ready to quit can determine that. Ira Glass illustrates this best as The Gap, that giant canyon between your taste and quality work. What’s funny is I’m not so sure you can ever cross The Gap because the other side is constantly shifting farther away. Still, I watch this video regularly to remind myself to push on, to keep fighting, that eventually, I might close The Gap, even as it grows wider.