“Sometimes the greatest picture a photographer takes is when he turns around and captures what’s behind him.”
A talented artist named Blue Fier—yes, that’s Blue as in the color, and Fier as in fire, and his name is just one of the many things that make him truly unforgettable—explained this to me last year, about two hours after he’d taken one of the most stunning photos I’d ever seen of Pier 5 in the San Francisco Bay.
The wood panels lined up horizontally, perfectly in place as the fog caused the streetlights to take on star-like figures with a sheet of royal blue providing an immaculate backdrop. To be honest, it’s something we’ve probably ogled over before (no offense, Blue), and yet it still managed to catch me off guard, taking my breath away for a split second as I fell onto that path of illuminated blues and golds.
Then I realized: It wasn’t just the photo. It was the story behind it.
You see, Blue had originally set out to capture some pictures of the sunset over the pacific ocean, snapping them behind the rusty rails as he peered out over the rippling reflection. But when he was just about to wrap up, something to told him to turn around. In that moment, he ended up capturing the most beautiful picture of the bunch: The serenity of a nearly vacant pier guided by shimmering lights, those wood panels reminding him of the steps he took to get to that point, and though it wasn’t what he expected, that photograph was exactly what he needed, and it was just right.
He called it “The Blue Hour.”
I never thought much about his words at the time. I figured it was just an artist’s strategy to ensure he never misses the perfect shot. But then I realized, it’s so much more than that (as it typically is with a soul as inspiring as Blue’s).
Over the last few months, I’ve been questioning everything about my current status in life—where I thought I would be at this point and where I actually am. I keep looking to the future, questioning my path and my purpose and wondering what I need to do different.
And last night it all built up as I crumbled in what you might describe as a slight emotional breakdown.
I cried for two hours, thinking about the fact that I wake up five days a week to take the same drive to the same building and press the same button in the same elevator and take the same walk to the same desk where I do the same job that I’m not even sure I’m all that passionate about anymore.
Five. Days. A. Week. That’s about 71% of my life in which 100% of the time I’m asking myself: Is this it?
I’ve woken up depressed most mornings over the last few months as I hit snooze on my alarm clock (at least three times) before mustering up the courage to get out of bed and begin my day at what I thought would be my dream job.
It’s not because this job isn’t a dream, and it’s not because I don’t enjoy it. I’ve just continued to mask what’s going on by telling myself it’s just not where I want to be anymore.
But that’s just it right there.
If you asked me three years ago where I wanted to be, I would have told you right here. And if you asked me five years ago to paint the perfect, most realistic picture of my future, I probably would have drawn this: 27, recently promoted at E! News, a solid shoe collection, my health, my family and my friends.
You see, when we constantly pine over the uncertainties of the future, we forget just how far we’ve come.
It wasn’t that long ago I’d been laid off from my first real job as a writer, praying every day for a month that another opportunity would come along. During that time, I probably applied to at least five different jobs at E! News and got exactly zero responses. It took me three years of experience at another company to finally land an interview with E!, and now I can humbly say I’m overseeing a chunk of digital production in yet another role I never thought possible.
If you pulled me aside from my research on filing for unemployment in 2013, I would have laughed in your face about the mere idea of me ever even getting an interview at E! fucking News.
I came from a small town without any connections pretty much anywhere. No one in my family was USC alumni, mommy and daddy didn’t come from trust funds, and I certainly am not pretty enough to fly by based upon my looks.
Everything I have today came from every day of hard work in my past.
And this is how Blue Fier’s words came back to me, piling up behind me like the planks of wood that make up Pier 5 of the San Francisco Bay.
This time, it was me who turned around.
I may not be exactly where I want right now, and my future might be darkened with uncertainty, but the picture behind me is clear as day: I’ve come too damn far to stop now.
So to answer my question from before, no, this is definitely not it. And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be and exactly what I’m going to use to motivate me to keep working and keep pushing forward.
One day I’m going to wake up, and I’m not going to hit snooze. One day I’m going to take the same drive to the same building and press the same button in the same elevator and take the same walk to the same desk where I do the same job, and I’m going to be fucking stoked.
Why? Because I’ll turn around and embrace my own Blue Hour.
I’ll look back on all the days I woke up and worked my ass off despite all the anxiety and uncertainty of this crazy thing we call life, and I’ll see the shimmering lights among the fog that helped guide me forward along each wood plank.
Eventually, I’ll look back and see it all led me to exactly where I’m meant to be, and though it might not be what I expected, it will be just right.